Landowners to play roll in 2013 county weed control

Should Mille Lacs County spray for noxious and invasive weeds on its rights of way or should it just mow the weeds, as it did in 2012?
That was part of the  discussion at a Mille Lacs County Board work session, following an April 16 board meeting.
Susan Shaw, district administrator for the Mille Lacs Soil & Water Conversation District, was on hand to talk with commissioners about the plan for 2013.
Last year, for the first time in Shaw’s 13 years with the SWCD, the county only mowed weeds instead of controlling some with chemical spray.
The plan is to do that again in 2013, but Shaw wanted to meet with commissioners, three of whom have been in office just a few months, to make sure they’re familiar with the plan implemented last year.
State law requires that such weeds are controlled, both on private and public land. To that end, the SWCD ran an ad in local newspapers recently to remind people they have to do that.
The idea is to control weeds that pose an economic or public health threat to the county’s citizens.
Last year’s plan had a goal of providing nonchemical roadside vegetation management and Shaw plans to do that again this year, in cooperation with the  Mille Lacs County Public Works Department.
“I think the public was OK with it last year,” Shaw said in an interview Monday. “We got very little response in 2012.”
In the long run, she said, the county needs to be able to keep weeds from going to seed and spreading.
The most common noxious weed in the county is leafy spurge and it’s more prevalent in the southern part of the county.
Wild parsnip is also a problem, as is Canada thistle.
Wild parsnip can have a health effect, Shaw said, when someone touches it and the juice gives people burns on their skin.
The SWCD has mapped where certain weeds are in the county but seeks to update those maps.
Commissioner Phil Peterson, Milaca, questioned Shaw about members of the steering committee that made recommendations last year for controlling weeds without spraying.
“When I hear that just a couple people determine this, that isn’t the whole population,” he said.
Peterson said in an interview later that he didn’t think the option of spraying should be left out of the county’s plan.
Shaw said Monday she thinks it’s valuable if citizens can identify weeds  on the right of way near their property.