The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Ian Smay
The Times 

Weed Board Can Provide Help for Columbia County County Residents

Weed Board Coordinator Rachel Hutchens says community members can benefit in many ways


August 10, 2017

DAYTON – Almost everyone in Dayton (and probably the surrounding areas) is aware that Dayton is home to the Columbia County’s Washington State University Extension Office. What many people may not know is that the office is also home to the County Weed Board, which is funded by a county assessment and tries to control weeds, as well as reaching out and educating the public on noxious weeds.

Rachel Hutchens, who has been the County Weed Board Coordinator since October 2013, also recently became the Extension Office Manager, and combined the two roles in May. Hutchens says that their goal is to prevent the spread of new weeds to the area.

“Ultimately, our goal is to prevent any new invasive weeds from establishing in our county and to encourage and educate landowners about how to manage and control weeds on their land,” she said.

Some of the weeds that the board is currently working to help area landowners identify and contain are Yellow Star thistle, Japanese and Bohemian Knotweed, Leafy Spurge, and Mediterranean Sage, according to Hutchens. The board wants to eradicate the Mediterranean Sage in Baileysburg (outside of Dayton), as well as contain it as well as the star thistle in other areas of the county.

There are many ways that the board tries to help stop the spread of the weeds that are already in the county, as well as preventing the spread of new species. One way they try to control weeds is through biological control.

“Biological control is the use of a living thing (insect, mite, fungi, virus) to control a weed species,” Hutchens explained. “We also keep an eye out for any new noxious weeds that may be introduced into the county.”

The board also hold meetings and other outreach programs to try and educate the public to be more vigilant when it comes to both the control of already present weeds and the spread of new weeds in the county.

“The Weed Board funds a winter annual meeting each January,” she said. “This is an educational outreach to the community and is free and open to the public. The meeting topics are centered around weed biology and control, and the safe handling and application of herbicides.”

They also provide free information on identifying weeds, controlling and handling weeds. On top of this, Hutchens also has a booth set up a few times a year at the Blue Mountain Station and the Columbia County Fair that is focused on educating landowners.

On top of the educational offerings from the board, community members can also benefit financially. There are cost share programs set up by the board that provide landowners with financial aid to help control some noxious weeds, according to Hutchens.

The Columbia County Weed Board has been active since its formation in March of 1975. At the time, the extension agent played an advisory role. The board is now a regulatory board appointed by the county commissioners. The current board is led by Chairman Rick Turner, and includes four other officers.

While they are constantly working to help fight the weed problem in Columbia County, Hutchens says that the fight never really ends.

“The problem with weed control is that you are rarely ever done,” Hutchens said.


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