Concern about private weed control

by Scott Burton

Weed control and neighborly relations received a lot of attention at the August 3 meeting of the San Juan County Commission.

Rigby Wright presented the concerns of a group of area landowners, including members of the county weed board, regarding weed control efforts on private land. Simply put, Wright said that some landowners are not spraying their weeds and are ignoring county notices to spray their weeds.

Extension agent Jim Keyes reported that one landowner would not sign for a registered letter, forcing the postal service to return the letter as undeliverable.

The group asked if the Sheriff could directly serve the papers. After the notification, if the landowners make no effort to spray their weeds, then the county could spray and add the charges to the landowner’s tax bill.

Assistant County Attorney Walter Bird said the laws are in place for the county to take action, saying weeds are a nuisance that impact neighboring property owners.

Commissioner Bruce Adams, playing devil’s advocate, said that many local residents complain about government intrusion. He asked the landowners if they were willing to take flack for encouraging government intervention on private land.

Jim Keyes agreed to work with the weed board to analyze the policy and laws and come up with a countywide plan to work through the issue and inform the public beginning in January, 2010.

Organic grains are a growing sector of the local economy and effective weed control is a critical need.

In other business, commissioners approved the purchase of an air compressor for the road department for $5,288.

Pay raises were approved for Sam Cantrell of the Surveyor’s Department, as well as for four employees of the road department, which raised concern from Bob Jorgensen, a county resident who was present at the meeting. Jorgensen called for a “block in pay raises due to the condition of the economy.” Commissioner Adams explained that these pay raises were part of the hiring agreement for both Cantrell and the Road Department employees that once they received certain training, they would get a pay increase.

Building permits were approved for a shed in Eastland, a shed on Blue Mountain Ridge, and a cabin on La Sal Mountain.

Mike Diem, of the US Forest Service, discussed a number of issues. These include fire suppression efforts at Dry Wash, Dry Mesa and Duck Lake, the impact of a proposed high-wattage radio station at the Abajo Peak station, work on the proposed Camp Jackson ATV trail, issues regarding access to private property, and locking gates on the mountain road between Monticello and Blanding.

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