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Weed & Pest

Cody – The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council hosted a full slate of council meetings and educational speakers during the 2016 Wyoming Weed and Pest Conference on Nov. 1-3, including breakout sessions on bio-control research, Ventenata grass and public court cases related to Weed and Pest districts.

During the business meeting on Nov. 1, Park County Weed and Pest Supervisor Josh Shorb gave an update on the recent work of the Special Districts Task Force and its impacts on special districts, including Wyoming Weed and Pest.

Budgeting

When discussing the budget bill related to special districts, Shorb noted that many elements of the proposed bill are already addressed by current Weed and Pest Council actions.

“When we talk about the budget bill, a lot of those things that are in that, the Weed and Pest Act and what we’re actually doing is already addressed,” he said.

One element that will be addressed is how special districts assess and assign functions to their budget reserve. Shorb explained that historically, Wyoming Weed and Pest listed the figure in their budget report but did not include an explanation.

“What this budget bill will do, in a sense, is make every district state their budget reserve policy and what it’s for,” said Shorb. “That’s going to give an opportunity for districts to explain themselves.”

He commented than many people do not realize the importance of a large budget reserve in the event of weed or pest outbreaks.

“When a grasshopper plague sweeps across Johnson County, we can spend $4 million pretty quick, but some people don’t realize that,” continued Shorb.

Dissolution

“Another one of the big bills out there is the dissolution of special districts,” said Shorb. “That’s where a lot of the special districts are going to band together and fight if it gets sponsored.”

He explained that there are three ways that a county commission can begin the process to dissolve a district that are in existing law currently.

“One of them is for the good of the people, basically the ‘we feel like it’ clause,” Shorb continued.

Proposed changes include adding further language that would delineate different things a special district could do that would trigger a county commission to begin dissolving a district, including not providing their budget to the county clerk on time, not posting notices on time or providing them in a publically accessible place.

“This would give commissioners potentially more authority and a little bit longer of a laundry list on how to dissolve a district,” explained Shorb.

He noted that while county commissions cannot simply say that a district is dissolved, they do have a significant influence on public vote.

“It has to go to the voters, but for a county commission to even bring that up and have it in the local newspapers, that’s not good,” stressed Shorb.

Power

County commissions currently a significant amount of authority over Weed and Pest districts, said Shorb.

“That’s already been in the state statute, and it’s been that way for a long time. I think a lot of county commissions out there did not realize they had this authority over us,” he continued.

However, throughout the function of the special task force, the executive director of the Wyoming County Commissioner’s Association has been actively involved in discussions.

“County commissions are all very aware right now of the actual authority they have over Weed and Pest districts,” stressed Shorb.

One result that Shorb predicted is that county commissions will question special districts on their budget reserves and future budget plans.

“I can see some things come to pass like this district has ‘X’ amount of dollars in there, and they can say, ‘No, you don’t get your full mill. You’re going to get 90 percent. Use your budget reserve to fill that last 10 percent,’” explained Shorb. “They want to tell us we can squeak as much as we want but we can’t do anything.”

He noted that the control that county commissions have over special districts is slightly concerning, but the task force and the Council will continue to follow the issue.

Professional

Shorb stressed that Wyoming Weed and Pest districts will need to create a unified front when faced with upcoming bills and building positive relationships with county commissions.

“We’re going to have to have a lot of help from everybody this year, and we’re going to have to have a united front,” said Shorb.

To help with this goal, he strong suggested investing in hiring a professional lobbyist.

“That’s one of the reasons I think we need to bring in a professional,” continued Shorb.

In the 2016 budget, the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council recommended $6,000 for professional services, said Shorb.

“I don’t know that the accountant is going to pass that to approve that money, but my recommendation is that they do. The guy that we’re working with is Pete Illoway,” he said. “We already had him attend one of the task force meetings on our behalf.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Across the state of Wyoming, local weed and pest offices seek innovative solutions for both public education and information, as well as eradication of weeds. 

Lincoln and Natrona counties have both implemented bounty programs to address problem weeds in their respective areas, and both agencies have seen success both in eliminating weeds and in increasing awareness. 

During the 2018 Wyoming Weed and Pest Council meeting, held in Casper Nov. 6-8, representatives from both counties shared about their program, encouraging others from across the state to implement similar innovative solutions.

Dyer’s Woad

Nearly 20 years ago, Lincoln County concluded that Dyer’s Woad was a significant problem in the county.

“I don’t know if this program started as an eradication tool as much as a public awareness effort, but from an awareness standpoint, the program has been unbelievably successful,” said Lincoln County Weed and Pest’s Jason Trauntvein.

“If we ask almost anyone in Star Valley, they know what Dyer’s Woad looks like, and they know it’s a problem,” Trauntvein commented. “They might not know why it’s a problem, but they know it is a problem. I would say that’s our major success with this program.”

The weed bounty program was developed in cooperation with a partner association, who provides bags, and Lincoln County Weed and Pest provides funding.

Developing program

The program has evolved over time to address necessary changes.

“We started with a three-day program, because of our funding. We budgeted about $40,000 and we would spend $38,000,” Trauntvein explained. “As time went on, we spent less and less of the money.”

The weed and pest office paid 50 cents a pound for Dyer’s Woad, but for payment, the root must be intact. 

“Occasionally, we have to tell a kid he has mustard instead of Dyer’s Woad, and we can’t pay him for it,” added Trauntvein, noting that one boy made several trips, four miles each way, by bicycle to deliver Dyer’s Woad to the weed and pest offices. 

However, some families took full advantage of the program. For example, one family helped fund a trip to Disneyland with the proceeds of picking Dyer’s Woad.

Several years into the program, local youth are hired to pick Dyer’s Woad from hard-to-pick areas, like steep hillsides where the weed is sparser. 

“We call these kids our ‘Woad Warriors,’” he said. “Between the individuals and the Woad Warriors, we’ve made a significant dent in Dyer’s Woad. In Lincoln County, we feel like we’re trying our best to hold the line and not let it spread.”

In addition, Lincoln County Weed and Pest has hosted adopt-a-canyon programs, where families are paid a set amount. At the end of the season, if weed and pest employees don’t find any Dyer’s Woad, they are paid for their efforts.

Financial aspect

In 2014, the county paid $26,000 for Dyer’s Woad. 

“Each year varies, depending on conditions and how much of the plant we get. In 2016 and 2017, we had the lowest year we’ve had in a long time,” Trauntvein commented. “Reports we get from people out picking Dyer’s Woad is that it is tougher to find and patches are spread out.” 

He continued, “I feel like our program has been a great success. We’re spending less money trying to control it, and the public awareness is awesome.” 

Trauntvein believes the program could be implemented for almost any weed with similar results. 

“If we continue this path, I believe we’ll be able to hold the line on Dyer’s Woad,” he said.

Natrona County

Bob Shellard of Natrona County Weed and Pest approached Trauntvein via e-mail after hearing of Lincoln County’s success to learn more about the bounty program. 

“In the first year, we had a successful program, in our eyes,” Shellard says. “We wanted to engage the community by identifying public land sites that had heavy public use to help get rid of common burdock and houndstongue.”

The Natrona County program provided educational materials for plant identification and paid citizens 50 cents per pound for collection of the species. 

At the same time, Shellard said they worked to avoid spreading the seeds of the plants unnecessarily, so they focused their program on education.

“The Garden Creek Falls Rotary Park is a heavily used area at the base of Casper Mountain,” he said. “It is also full of common burdock and hounds tongue.” 

Both plants grow in shaded areas that are very sensitive.

“If we were to break out the herbicide, we would have more non-target damage than damage of the weeds,” Shellard noted. “We chose these plants because of this reason.”

Natrona County Weed and Pest supplied clear 55-gallon drum liners to the public, which allowed them to see the contents of the bag so they could pay for target weeds. 

Members of the public was given six bags, at most, per visit, to enable expense tracking, as well. 

“The board graciously put $20,000 in the bank for this program,” he said, noting they also paid 50 cents per pound of weeds collected. “Total bounty payments was $2,919. Our total cost was $5,000, when we included supplies and advertising.”

Shellard added, “We’re pretty sure this amount will go up in the future, because of the interest we see.”

After conducting the program, Shellard said members of the public were more likely to participate in groups, and the public awareness, as well as the community service aspect, was equally valuable.

Shellard said, “In the future, it makes sense for us to immediately expand the program and take advantage of the public’s interest in helping eliminate weeds.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper – At the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council 68th Annual Fall Conference and Business meeting, several Wyoming citizens were recognized for their service and dedication to the organization.
    The Harold P. Alley award was given to Sollie Cadman, who is employed by the City of Lander as their weed and pest supervisor. Cadman also served at the Weed and Pest Council President for the last three years. The Harold P. Alley award is given in honor of this great scientist to an individual who has provided support, leadership, motivation and education toward the advancement of weed and pest control programs in Wyoming.
    The Everett Johnson award, given in honor of Mr. Johnson to recognize the service of a district employee who has demonstrated outstanding weed and pest management practices in a Wyoming Weed and Pest Control District, was awarded to Gail Mahnke, district supervisor for Niobrara County Weed and Pest Control District.
    The Archie Lauer award was presented to Uinta County Weed and Pest Control District Board member since 1991 Allan Hansen. The award is given each year in honor of Mr. Lauer to recognize an outstanding individual who has been on the Wyoming Weed and Pest Board and has made a significant contribution to the board and its success.
    Representative Pete Illoway, who served as State Agronomist during the late 1960s and played a role in developing the weed and pest program we have today, was honored with the Guy Haggard award. Illoway also was a voice of support for the program during his tenure as a Representative in the State legislature. This award is given in honor of an individual who has provided motivation, friendship, loyalty, camaraderie and support of the people and this organization.
    The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council also recognized two individuals for 35 years of service to their Weed and Pest Control District Boards.
    Bob Parsons, supervisor of Park County Weed and Pest Control District, and Tom Brewster, board member on the Washakie County Weed and Pest Control District, were honored for their extended service.
    The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council also elected John Watson from Wheatland as their new president.
    Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In a kick-off webinar on July 12, Hawaii Governor and current chair of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) David Ige announced his Chairman’s Initiative Biosecurity and Invasive Species, saying, “The spread of invasive species continues to be one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the western governors and the entire country.” 

“Chairs of WGA have the prerogative to commit substantial resources of WGA to a particular project, issue or initiative, and Gov. Ige has chosen to focus on bio-security and invasive species,” said WGA Executive Director James Ogsbury. “As the apparatus of the federal government has grown larger, less nimble, more divisive and more dysfunctional, more and more people are looking to individual states and their governors for real leadership and for solutions to the problems that are facing the region and our nation.” 

With WGA at the helm of addressing invasive species issues, Ige sees the potential to mitigate the challenges caused by invasive species.

“I believe, through collaboration and sharing best practices, we can all find common ground to overcome these obstacles together,” Ige commented.

Local challenges

Ige said the issue of invasive species impacts his home state of Hawaii, a state which is completely isolated from other states. 

“Hawaii is truly the testing grounds for invasive species management, as we see the impacts of our management very close to home,” he said. “While our state comprises less than three percent of the land area in the U.S., we are home to 28 percent of all threatened and endangered species in the nation and 78 percent of all U.S. species extinction in the U.S. Invasives are major driver of the species loss.”

At the same time, disease is an important contributor to species loss, which means improved biosecurity is critical. Biosecurity areas include pre-border, border and post-border responses to protect against invasives. 

Big issue

“As chair of WGA, I chose biosecurity and invasive species as my initiative to bring this same collaborative approach to a West-wide scale,” Ige said. 

Ige’s initiative will focus on the impacts of nuisance species, pests and pathogens on ecosystems, forests, rangelands, watersheds and infrastructure, also examining the role of biosecurity in addressing invasive species management. 

“We will accomplish our goals through a series of webinars and workshops throughout the western region,” he explained. “The workshops will provide a forum to examine biosecurity and invasive species issues, assess developing threats, survey best practices and investigate emerging technologies that will help protect western lands and economies from the spread of non-native species.”

Next steps

Ige announced regional workshops to be held in Lake Tahoe, Nev. on Sept. 17-18 to discuss prevention, control and management of established species; in Cheyenne on Oct. 11-12 to discuss restoration; in Helena, Mont. on Nov. 11 to discuss early detection and rapid response; and in Kona Coast, Hawaii on Dec. 12 to discuss biosecurity and agriculture. A series of webinars in 2019 will provide further examination of issues discussed in the workshops.

“The outcome of the initiative’s workshops and webinars, along with best practices, case studies and policy recommendations will be published in a report,” Ige said, “and the report will be used to guide WGA’s future policies and work related to invasive species. I wish us fruitful and productive conversations on this issue.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cody – On Nov. 2, the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council hosted their annual awards banquet during the Wyoming Weed and Pest Conference held in Cody.

“This is the end-of-the-year awards banquet for the Weed and Pest employees, and it’s also our chance for the council to honor people outside of Weed and Pest for the contributions they make to fulfilling what we’re trying to do,” said Wyoming Weed and Pest Council President Adrian Hunolt during the festivities.

Outstanding practices

Cheryl Schwartzkopf was the 2016 recipient of the Everett Johnson Award, which recognizes recognize the service of a district employee who has demonstrated outstanding weed and pest management practices in their Wyoming Weed and Pest control district.

Schwartzkopf began working as an assistant supervisor for her district in 2002 where she strongly emphasized the importance of public relations.

“From 2002-11, she helped chair the public relations committee. In this role she set up educational booths, representing the Weed and Pest Council in many states and every spring and fall at workshops for Wyoming,” said 2015 Everett Johnson Award Recipient Steve McNamee.

In 2010, she became supervisor of Converse County. In that role, Schwartzkopf has been a driving force in state cheatgrass control.

“She was told by a Nebraska county commissioner that because of the Converse County Cheatgrass Tour in 2012, she was the main reason western Nebraska was working on cheatgrass in their area,” explained McNamee.

Her work in cheatgrass management has resulted in creating a partnership with Washington State University researchers to perform research in Wyoming.

“This partnership brought to Wyoming the first test plots of ACK55. Currently she is working with Washington State University to find a bacteria isolate that controls bulbous bluegrass and prairie three-awn grass,” he continued.

Service

“The Archie Lauer Award is presented in honor of Archie Lauer to a Weed and Pest board member for their outstanding contribution to a weed and pest program within a district,” said Sublette County Weed and Pest Supervisor Andy Currah.

Although Currah never met Lauer, he said, “I feel as though I’ve gotten to know him through the characteristics and examples set him and by previous Archie Lauer Award recipients. I believe he would approve of this year’s recipient.”

2016 award recipient Monte Skinner has been a board member for Sublette County Weed and Pest for 25 years.

Through his years spent in the outdoors, Skinner has a keen understanding of the importance of managing invasive species and the impact they have on the native environment.

As such, Skinner strongly supports both public education and further education for district employees.

“He has always understood the importance of education and has always supported our efforts as a district educating landowners. He is always the first to support and attend any educational event that the supervisors of the district hold,” explained Currah.

Currah continued that Skinner is a strong supporter of giving the district employees the best tools to complete the task at hand.

“Whenever we, as employees, ask the Board to consider allowing us to upgrade any portion of our program and to use the best practices available, he supports us and has more than one occasion has referred back to the employees of the district to make the best management decisions for our projects,” he concluded.

Friend

“This weed and pest organization takes a lot to run across the state, and we depend on a lot of friends and outside people to help do this,” explained Park County Weed and Pest Supervisor Josh Shorb.

The 2016 Guy Haggard Award, which is given to individuals who provide support, friendship and loyalty to the organization, was awarded to Rep. Dan Laursen of Powell and Sen. Dave Kinskey of Sheridan.

During the state budget cuts last year, Shorb noted that the Office of State Lands was forced to cut many of their expenses.

“They were forced to cut their weed and pest funding out of their budget for control of noxious weeds and pests on their own land,” he said.

Rep. Laursen and Sen. Kinskey visited with the Council about some of the issues involving weed and pest control in the state. Shorb explained that they “took the bull by the horns.”

“Last year down at the session, there was a lot of cutting, and one of the few things that got added back into that budget was monies for control of weeds and pests on state lands,” said Shorb. “With Dan on the House side, Mr. Kinskey on the Senate side and a whole lot of heavy lifting by a lot of people, half of that line item was restored in the state budget.”

Program support

The 2016 recipient of the Harold Alley Award was Slade Franklin, Wyoming Weed and Pest coordinator with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

Franklin embodies the characteristics of support, leadership, motivation and education to help advance weed and pest control programs in Wyoming consistently, said 2015 Award Recipient Brian Mealor.

“He works with all of the districts and is really the main support system that keeps everybody connected on the important issues,” said Mealor. “He is the primary person the districts look to when issues arise, and if he doesn’t know the answer, he will promptly find one with his wealth of contacts and his support system.”

Franklin has represented the Council at the state an national level as a spokesperson and advocate.

“He stands up for us in the many battles that go on behind the scenes and is always looking for ways of improvement,” continued Mealor. “Slade Franklin is a wealth of knowledge, and there is no other person that supports, leads and motivates this organization as a whole quite like Slade does.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..