San Juan County seeks assessment hike for noxious weed program

Requests from property owners and site visits by the Noxious Weed Control Program have increased an average of more than 15 percent each year since 2002.

The number of information letters and noxious weed notifications sent to property owners so far this year is 20 times higher than at any time in the past.

But Noxious Weed Control Board Chairwoman Amanda Azous said that over the last six years, the board’s budget has actually lost ground due to the cost of living and, consequently, authorized staff hours have been reduced.

State law requires each county to control the spread of noxious weeds – typically invasive and sometimes poisonous non-native plants which threaten agriculture, livestock, domestic animals and native plant communities.

In a slide presentation Tuesday before the County Council, Azous showed the results of the program’s efforts, including the elimination from the county of seven of the eight species classified as “Must Eradicate” by the state. Azous also noted that the program publicized seven new brochures on specific noxious weeds in 2007 alone.

To deal with the ongoing noxious weed problem, to increase the program’s ability to do public outreach and education, and to recruit and use more volunteer labor, Azous asked the council to consider granting an increase in the county’s Noxious Weed Control property assessment. The new fee would charge $8.10 for each parcel of land and 81 cents for each additional acre. She said 93 percent of the all parcel owners would pay less than $16.21 per year.

The current assessment, which raises $75,750 per year is set at $3.25 per parcel plus 32 cents per acre.

The presentation was the first, so no action was taken. The council will schedule a public hearing on the issue within the next few months.

To view Azous’s slide presentation, click here.

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