County to begin weed control plan

Susan Shaw holds a picture of leafy spurge at the Tuesday, March 6 meeting of the Mille Lacs county Board. The county looks to implement a new weed policy this year.

Princeton Union-Eagle

Mille Lacs County public works will begin mowing ditches earlier than normal this spring in the southern part of Mille Lacs because of a new program to control leafy spurge, a noxious weed. The plan is also to use less chemical spraying.

Leafy spurge is a difficult to eradicate perennial that has a bitter taste and is toxic to livestock. Its spread poses an economic threat to hay crops and cattle grazing in the county, according to Mille Lacs Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Director Susan Shaw. She explained all that during her request for approval of the new noxious and invasive weed control plan at the Mille Lacs County Board of Commissioners March 6 meeting. After about a nearly half hour discussion the board approved her request.

The SWCD lists leafy spurge as its highest priority noxious weed to go after.

The new approach of earlier mowing, Shaw noted, is to cut the leafy spurge before it can go to seed.  The SWCD had been doing spot spraying on patches of leafy spurge in the past and will continue to do some of that but with the goal of much less. This new tact is in response to the public’s increased concern over chemical sprays in the environment, said Shaw last week.

Mille Lacs Commissioner Dan Whitcomb, who has a fruit and produce farm in rural Princeton and who promotes using as little chemical spraying as possible in his business, responded to Shaw. He said that chemicals will have to be used in some places to deal with leafy spurge because of the impracticality of getting mowers onto certain terrain.

For the full story, see the Thursday, March 15 print edition of the Times.