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County waging war on weeds
Commission OKs annual weed-fighting report
county weed report
Pictured is the Barton County Weed Department office on south Morton in Great Bend. The County Commission Monday heard a report on noxious weed control.

Noxious weeds are one of the greatest threats to the Kansas environment, said Barton County Works Director Darren Williams, addressing the County Commission Monday morning as commissioners approved the Annual Noxious Weed Eradication Progress Report.

“They displace native plant species, interfere with the production of agricultural crops, increase erosion, destroy wildlife habitat and decrease property values,”  he said. 

The Kansas Department of Agriculture is responsible for laws aiding in the control and management of noxious and invasive weeds in Kansas. The KDA requires Kansas counties to submit an annual report, which Williams presented Monday. 

Out of a 2020 county valuation of $263,939,960, the beginning 2020 noxious weed budget based on a 1.137 mil levy was $711,455. Revenues, including chemical sales, totalled $712,842.19, and expenditures totalled $709,713.75, leaving a balance of $3,128.44.

In all, the department will carry over $82,920.12 to the 2021 budget.

As for the acreage sprayed in 2020, the total was 78,960. That breaks down as 71,005 of private land, 2,510 of county land, 3,015 of township land, 1,425 state land and 1,005 city land.

“I use the County Weed Department on pastures,” District 1 Commissioner Kirby Krier said. He said they do a great job, and are well utilized.

He also noted that not all counties can boast the success.

District 3 Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson said one doesn’t have to be a farmer to utilize Noxious Weeds services. The department will also provide consultation on what chemicals to use.

Weeds treated include bull thistle, bur ragweed, field bindweed, Johnsongrass and musk thistle.

On a related note, commissioners approved the county agreement to treat noxious weeds.

The Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz has submitted an agreement to treat noxious weeds on KDOT rights-of-way in the county. Included in the contract is a price of $24 per hour for operator and $51 per hour for the spray vehicles. Also detailed is how the work shall be recorded and what chemicals may be used, Williams said.