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Fremont County Hosts State Weed Tour

Fremont County Weed Coordinator Jana Rapetti (left center) explains this summer's efforts to control elongated mustard weed in this area near Wellsville in western Fremont County. A state weed crew along with crews from Fremont and Chaffee Counties backpacked weed spray onto the steep cliffs to reach the noxious weed which has now infested approximately 2,000 acres in the area.

Fremont County hosted this summer’s annual weed tour by the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Noxious Weed Advisory Committee on Thursday, August 21st.   Fremont County Commission Chairman Ed Norden is a member of the Committee and offered the invitation to give members of the statewide group an opportunity to see first-hand the noxious weed control efforts underway locally.

Fremont County Weed Coordinator Jana Rapetti aided in putting together much of the tour which began with a power point presentation that included video of aerial spraying in July by helicopter of an infestation of elongated mustard in the Wellsville area of western Fremont County.   The tour group then caravanned to the site near Wellsville where Rapetti and Chaffee County Weed Coordinator Larry Walker detailed efforts to control the spread of the mustard weed across an approximate 2,000 acre area.

The site in Fremont and Chaffee Counties is the only area in Colorado where elongated mustard has spread.    Walker said it’s believed the weed arrived years ago from Nevada as trucks and heavy equipment working on power lines carried the seeds into Colorado.    There were efforts again in June to spray the mustard plants by backpacking into the area of rocky, steep cliffs.   A state grant was secured to use the helicopter to spot spray the elongated mustard in areas that could not be accessed on foot.

The tour continued into Thursday afternoon at the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park where District Conservationist Rick Romano of the Natural Resource Conservation District Office in Cañon City explained the work that went into the reclamation and seeding efforts in the aftermath of the June, 2013 wildfire at the Royal Gorge.  Tour participants viewed a vibrant ecosystem of grasses and wildflowers from seed specifically chosen for that area and now is exhibiting strong growth following the rains this spring and summer.

The group also traveled over Skyline Drive to view how the release of insects in Fremont County has led to effective biological control of tamarisk (salt cedar trees).   Tour participants eyed a long stretch of dead and dying tamarisk in the creek bottom below that parallels US Highway 50.

Members of the Colorado Noxious Weed Advisory Committee then gathered on Friday at Fremont County’s Garden Park Conference Room to conduct their quarterly meeting.