Mt. Crested Butte weeds get the axe

“Please be very careful what products you use”

If there are weeds in your Mt. Crested Butte yard, better think about pulling them soon. The town passed an ordinance this week that gives them the authority to remove weeds on private property that are considered a nuisance, and then bill the property owner for charges incurred.



However, before that could ever happen, town manager Joe Fitzpatrick points out, the town will need to eradicate all weeds on its own properties and roadsides.
The Mt. Crested Butte Town Council unanimously approved 2008 Ordinance No. 2 during first reading on Tuesday, August 5.  A final reading of the ordinance is scheduled on August 19.
Since the fall of 2006 the town of Mt. Crested Butte has been busy developing a plan to eradicate noxious and invasive weed species from the town’s property, and more recently, to encourage private property owners to do the same. Last fall the town created a Weed Advisory Committee to develop new strategies to fight the growing weed problem.
Committee member Jennifer Reithel said weeds could have a dire effect on the local tourism economy because they “invade pristine meadows and squeeze out the native (plants).  They degrade the pasture lands, and they also decrease property values.”  Across the country, Reithel said, invasive weeds cause billions of dollars in damage.  
In June members of the Weed Advisory Committee asked the council to consider some proposed language for a noxious weed ordinance that would allow the town to eliminate weeds considered a nuisance on private property, and recoup expenses from the property owner.
Town attorney Rod Landwehr said the ordinance would take advantage of state statutes that give town the ability to enforce nuisance provisions, but there would not be a criminal penalty involved.
The town has $10,000 set aside in its 2008 budget for use in eradicating noxious weeds.
On Tuesday Landwehr, along with the assistance of the advisory committee, presented the council with draft language for an official noxious weed ordinance.  A public hearing was held at the start of the meeting to gather input from citizens.   
Mt. Crested Butte resident Nancy Vogel was the only resident who spoke, and encouraged the council to think twice before using chemicals to eradicate the weeds. “I’m worried about our water table being contaminated.  Some of these chemicals have been linked to causing cancer.  Please be very careful what products you use,” Vogel said.  She said the town of Crested Butte has been using natural products to fight weeds on its property, and “the fields in town look exceptional.”   
Following the hearing, council member Bill Babbitt asked what the next step for the town would be.  Fitzpatrick said the town must now approve a comprehensive plan to eradicate its own weeds and educate residents on the new ordinance.  Fitzpatrick said the council might have the opportunity to review such a plan as early as September 2.  
After council member Gary Keiser resolved several issues with the ordinance’s language (which could have accidentally caused local indigenous plants to be considered noxious weeds) the council unanimously approved the ordinance. 

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