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WEED WAR 8-29-17 LMS

There were no public comments offered at an official Public Hearing conducted Monday, August 28, on the Lemhi County Budget for 2017-18. The Lemhi County Commissioners followed the hearing with a motion to adopt the $9,021,334 budget by way of Resolution 2017-10. The motion was passed unanimously.

Earlier that morning, how the war on noxious weeds is being managed by Lemhi County was the topic of a power-point presentation to Commissionerís Chairman Ken Miner and Commissioners Rick Snyder and Brett Barsalou by Monte and Diane Bruhn.

Monte Bruhn of the M&W Bruhn Enterprises LLC/Salmon River Spray and Ag Company said he has a degree in agriculture and has been in the ag spraying/chemical/fertilizer business for 34 years. He took issue with the way the county is spraying weeds at the wrong times of year without proper protection for those applying the spray, the spraying of non-noxious weeds and for the economic hardships imposed by the countyís competing with licensed commercial businesses including his own.

Specifics included Larry Phillips commercial car wash which Bruhn said has lost 50 percent of its business since the county vehicular weed-wash station was installed, to limit the spread of weed seeds, and Steve Demickís hydro seeder business which is forced to compete with the countyís hydro seeder. He said there used to be 12 businesses that sprayed weeds in the county and now there are three. Bruhn said the county hurts his business financially by its weed spraying as well as impacting the pool of certified, qualified employees and the sale of herbicides by local businesses.

He went on to say the public perception has become the county sprays for free so residents donít have to worry about it. He said residents also opt for not doing anything about weed infestations on private property until the county issues orders to the owner. He cited state codes that make weed control the property ownerís responsibility and said he is working with the County Attorney on code clarifications.

Bruhn suggested more concise directives for the weed department along with proper seasonal identification of spray timing and more of an effort to work with the commercial community.

Bruhn acknowledged that weed control in Lemhi County is a daunting task due to the countyís size and 92 percent government land ownership. He showed examples of Canadian Thistle infestations north of Lone Pine, also on private property close to the Baker Store and a variety of noxious weeds on various county properties throughout the valley.

Jeremy Varney is moving on from being Lemhi Countyís Weed Supervisor to the Boise based position of Idaho State US Department of Agriculture Aquatic Weed Director.

Bruhn recommended that in addition to weed management knowledge, while interviewing for a possible replacement, the commissioners emphasize skills in public education, public relations and enforcement of the laws in effect. He commended Varney for his work and the enormity of the job. Bruhn hoped that in the future weed management plans could be made available for local producers and land managers which may mean hiring more weed department workers in order to allow the supervisor time to develop management plans and work with the ranchers.

Keith and Jeannie Richards of Elk Bend approached the commissioners with an issue about a structure they want to build being lumped into county codes containing 50 pound per square foot snow load requirements. Mrs. Richards explained that what they intend to build is known as a hoop house and will extend their vegetable growing season as well as their income. She said the enclosure is not a greenhouse, will not be open to the public and will not have utilities. She said it is simply a removable garden cover. She said counties that donít have specific codes for hoop houses just exempt them from the permit process however; this county is wanting to impose structure codes. The Richards suggested the county write a new code which pertains to the high tunnel/ hoop house and urged quick action considering the time of season.

The commissioners agreed there is a need for further research and asked that as soon as possible the County Building Department look into how other counties categorize such enclosures and report the findings to the board.

The next meeting of the Lemhi County Commissioners is set for September 11 beginning at 7:30 AM in the Brooklyn Annex Commissionerís Meeting Room.

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