Last fall a bicyclist enjoying a ride near Koontz Lane noticed what he thought was a patch of perennial pepperweed, a noxious and pervasive weed. He called the Carson City Weed Coalition to report it.
“He was right,” said Daniel Anderson, weed coordinator.
Anderson ventured to the site, mapped the roughly 1,000 square foot area using GPS, and returned the next day to spray it with herbicide, catching the weed early in a second germination.
“They’re called rosettes and when you catch that it has a big impact on the plant,” said Anderson. “I went back in June and there’s no problem.”
Sometimes a call is a false alarm. Another resident recently phoned to say there was pepperweed, also known as tall whitetop, near the Mexican Ditch.
“It wasn’t, it was milkweed,” a native plant, said Anderson. “I responded to him with a fact sheet and a thank you card for calling.”
Anderson is grateful for citizen input, even when it proves wrong, and wants to encourage more.
The coalition, which consists of state and federal agencies including the Nevada Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service as well as private landowners, works on eradicating invasive weeds.
“Carson City open space is where I come in,” said Anderson.
The group’s other big charter is public education so landowners control weeds on their property and citizens like the Koontz Lane bicyclist help the coalition control them elsewhere.
To that end, Anderson invites the public to attend the coalition’s quarterly meetings. The next one is Sept. 14, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Public Works department, 3505 Butti Way.
The coalition is also looking for help from Carson City and plans to go to the Board of Supervisors for additional funding in the next budget cycle.
The coalition was initially run by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, but in 2014 the weed program was cut from the budget.
In 2015, Carson City Parks, Recreation and Open Space gave the coalition a home as well as $5,000 in funding. The Carson Water Subconservancy District provides $15,000 and grants, which aren’t consistent, bring its total budget to about $30,000.
Anderson, who works part time, said coordinating the city’s weed reduction work, which includes Public Works and Parks & Rec, in order to prevent overlap is a full-time job in itself.
He’d also like to hire a three-person crew to work from April to September on weed management.
Landowners both public and private are required by state law to manage invasive weeds, which can choke out native plants and act as wildfire fuel.
“Pepperweed is the biggest problem we have,” said Anderson.
It can’t be mechanically removed because of its long root system, which also makes it difficult to destroy using herbicide because the chemical doesn’t reach the end of the roots.
Other weeds are particularly dangerous for wildlife and livestock.
“Yellow starthistle is one of the worst ones. We’re trying to keep it out of Carson City,” said Anderson. “It is very detrimental to livestock, cows can get a chewing disease from it. It cuts up their gums.”
It also goes to seed like a dandelion so wind can carry seeds for miles. That’s why Anderson jumped on a complaint filed with the Department of Agriculture when the weed was found in a vacant lot between Walmart and Home Depot on College Parkway.
The landowner resides out of state and has yet to respond to a notice. If recipients don’t take action within 30 days, their case is turned over to city code enforcement, which gives them another 30 days, and eventually to the state agriculture department, which can go as far as putting a lien on property.
“About 85 to 90 percent of property owners work with us. There are a only a few stubborn ones,” said Anderson. “The remaining ones are mostly out of state.”
And some are either physically or financially unable so the coalition works with them to somehow share the cost.
If you want to attend the group’s Sept. 14 meeting, or want additional information on the coalition or noxious weeds, contact Anderson at 283-7035 or firstname.lastname@example.org.