Red Willow County's grade on its annual noxious weed report card from the state indicates that the county has infestations that landowners are not taking care of.
Galen Niehues, a noxious weed inspector with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, told county commissioners during their weekly meeting Monday morning that roster, budget, activity and control plan reports filed by Bill Elliott, the county's weed supervisor, scored well, earning a score of 983 out of a possible 1,000. The score for "survey results" (a list of properties randomly selected and inspected) was 498 out of a possible 500, Niehues said, but the county's "followup" score was a zero out of a possible score of 500.
"It's pretty dramatic to see a goose-egg," Niehues told commissioners, "but there are some infestations that need to be taken care off." Niehues said that it doesn't take long for a county's followup score to go down, if individual landowners allow infestations to continue into the growing season.
"Some infestations have been taken care of quite well," he said. "Others, hopefully, will be taken care of in the next month or two."
Commission Chairman Earl McNutt said that he has noticed that Canada and musk thistle "are popping up pretty good," even without a lot of moisture this spring.
Niehues said ideally he would like to see Elliott devote more time to weed control, but he added that he understands that Elliott "wears a few hats" for the county. Elliott is the director of the county's household hazardous materials collection program and is also involved in the Southwest Weed Management Area project controlling saltcedar, red cedar and Russian olive trees on the Republican River.
Niehues told commissioners that Red Willow County's cooperation on the Republican River project is very much appreciated, especially considering its results of removing trees and recharging groundwater and river levels.
The county's most recent weed report card was delivered in April 2006, and its score then was 3,057. The county did not receive reports for 2006 and 2007. Its total score for 2008, this most recent report, is 2,881.