To the Editor
In regard to dealing with weeds in Grand County, perhaps we should ask why we have these ever-growing stands of “noxious” thistles, daisies, hawkweed, bindweed, etc. And, is spraying them with toxic chemicals really doing anything at all, other than poisoning our earth, as most of these chemical “solutions” do indeed have roots in chemical warfare. Why are we not holding the officials and developers accountable for the huge piles of mineral soil, covered with enough weeds to keep the county seeded for the next 10-20 or more years? It could be as easy as covering them with black landscape cloth, if they’re going to sit for more than a season, but I digress…
Not unlike the transplanted human population of North America, along with us, we brought the seeds and plants we knew, mostly for food and medicine, transplanting the native vegetation with non-native varieties familiar to our pioneer ancestors. [A most interesting read on this, as relates to our forests, is Eric Rutkow’s American Canopy.] Germans are credited with introducing the dandelion, used as both food and medicine, and though it’s taken a few hundred years, the dandelion is no longer on the noxious weed list, but now considered a naturalized plant. Not ironically, those who prefer the status quo bluegrass lawn, are still encouraged to throw down some toxins to keep those beautiful yellow daisies from taking over—and they will, as Mother Nature despises a monoculture. The thistles will come along to help, along with whatever other plants are willing to grow their roots deep into the nearly topsoil-free dirt of the west, and start the tedious process of breaking up our rocky soils, eventually sharing space with clovers and legumes (nitrogen-fixers), which help to rehabilitate the soil so some native plants can come back—and they will!—but this is a many-year process we humans do not seem to have the patience for. Spraying chemicals does not help this process, but there are things that do help: pulling weeds is your best choice by far, clipping and containing seed heads to halt further spread, introducing various native grass and wildflower seeds, using weed-free mulch, planting native trees and bushes. These will in turn help to support birds and pollinators, and the wildlife we love to see here. If you feel you must spray, try a homemade solution of 1 gallon apple cider vinegar + 1/3 cup Epsom salt + up to 1 tablespoon dish soap. Spray on a hot, sunny day—it is pungent, and non-discriminatory so use with care; but it is not toxic to your kids, pets, neighbors or yourself. And, clean-up is as easy as rinsing till the soap bubbles subside.
We in Grand County are at the headwaters of our nation’s western water supply, also compromised, and we must take care of our precious place on this planet. Being proactive has always worked better than being reactive: be a good citizen and do your part to improve the health of your own yard, favorite trail, space, neighborhood, then help somebody else with theirs. Kudos to Carol Sidofsky for opening up this conversation—check her previous letter (County weed spraying program) in the August 18, 2017 edition of the Winter Park Times.
To the Editor
Grand County’s “noxious weed” spraying program is violating Federal law!
Grand County’s poisonous herbicide/pesticide spraying of “noxious weeds” along Grand County Road rights-of-ways is and has always been in “violation of Federal law”!
How do I know this? Because in both herbicide labels (Telar XP and Milestone), it clearly says, “It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling”, and “Only protected handlers may be in the area during application”, and “Do not enter or allow entry into treated areas until sprays have dried”, and more.
Grand County’s weed sprayers in their unmarked trucks have never followed those described warnings on the herbicide labels. Instead, they drive trucks with no words on them, warning about their spraying POISONS on roadside weeds, near our wells & streams. And they don’t put signs next to sprayed weeds saying WHEN the weeds were sprayed, and they don’t put signs up saying “Do not enter this area until sprays have dried! We sprayed these weeds at such and such a time.”
Since it’s unlikely that weed sprayers could or would place such warning signs, we suggest that Grand County should sell their poison spray trucks and use the following safe, non-toxic weed control methods, instead of spraying poisons.
1) Heavy duty mowers,
2) Let non-violent jail inmates and folks owing community service pull noxious weeds, and
3) Promote pulling noxious weeds by volunteers, homeowners and renters, on both their own lands and on adjacent Grand County Road rights-of-ways.
These non-toxic methods will save the health of people, pets, wildlife, etc. Many folks on foot, on bicycles and in cars, have agreed with me, while I was pulling weeds on Grand County Road 50, which sadly, will be sprayed this Monday, August 26!
Grand County weed spray foreman Amy Sidener was quoted as saying she “would love it if people put us out of work”. We all can help her out by everyone pulling “noxious” weeds on roadsides, etc.
For more information, please call me, Carol Sidofsky, at 970-531-5000. (GASP/GrandCountians Against Spraying Poisons).