Steve Ranson

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August 21, 2014
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Owners responsible for cutting their weeds

Weeds have sprouted up on private property this year to give many yards that ragged Garden of Eden look.

In county subdivisions that consist of parcels between one to five acres in size, weeds have overrun property lines while providing good camouflage to some of the houses.

Meanwhile, in the city of Fallon, weeds have made once lush backyards into a jungle where dogs become lost trying to find their way to the back door.

The spreading weed problem has Churchill County Manager Eleanor Lockwood and other agency heads concerned, especially when the weeds become a fire hazard and present a risk to property owners.

“We have a real weed issue,” Lockwood said.

While county and state agencies have been meeting, Nancy Upham, district manager of the Churchill County Mosquito, Vector and Weed (Noxious) Control Board, has been taking calls from property owners wondering when her county agency will take care of the weeds.

That’s not the case, said Upham.

Both Lockwood and Upham said, according to state and local laws and regulations, the property owner is responsible for maintaining their land and ensuring weeds have been eliminated.

“Every property owner must manage their property,” Lockwood said.

According to Lockwood, she wants the word out that the county, along with other agencies, will provide information and assistance to homeowners who have a weed problem.

Lockwood said ranchers and farmers take care of their property, but she is more concerned with the people who live on one-acre parcels just outside the city limits.

“The issue is people who live in the urbanizing areas must knock down those weeds.

Upham said the kochia weed growth has been one of the worst in recent memory. Kochia can grow upward to seven feet tall. Lockwood added that kochia has been taking over both developed and undeveloped land this year.

While Lockwood is urging property owners in the county to mechanically eliminate the weeds with a lawnmower or manually pull them, the city has been taking steps to have property owners clean their lots since early June.

Fire Marshal Mitch Young surveyed parcels within the city in June and sent out letters to owners who needed to eradicate weeds. He said it’s the responsibility of the property owner to cut down the weeds, but the city can recommend different businesses that can clear lots.

Young said the city easily tripled the number of letters sent out this summer than last year.

“In town we’ve had problems with kochia and puncturevine, both prohibited by city ordinance,” Young added.

Young said if residents have weeds on their property, they should either pull or mow them as early as they can. For example Young said cutting down weeds when they are 8-10 inches tall is much easier before they grow to 8-10 feet.

Pam Powell, extension educator with the University of Nevada’s Cooperative Extension in Fallon, said her agency can lend expertise and education for eradicating weeds. She echoed Young’s advise to property owners if they can’t eliminate weeds, UNCE can offer advice for help.

Powell said her extension agents are recommending property owners cut down their weeds mechanically but not spray because the weeds dry out and become a fire hazard.

Lockwood said the Lahontan Conservation District, however, can provide herbicides that will eradicate noxious weeds such as puncturevine.

To help residents, Lockwood said the county’s Planning Department is the central office for taking calls regarding weed problems, and then the department will contact the appropriate people

“On our county website, it’s a one-stop page to help the private landowner,” Lockwood added.

Upham is also urging property owners to clean up the weeds because she said the situation will only worsen in September with kochia and Russian thistle.

“We have the perfect condition for things to get out of hand now,” Powell said. “We want people to be cautious.”

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Aug 21, 2014 06:03PM Published Aug 21, 2014 06:03PM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.