Stettler County’s Agriculture Services Board (ASB) debated how best to approach the issue of trees growing in ditches and right-of-ways, but board members agreed they want those trees removed.
The issue of trees growing in ditches and right-of-ways was added to the ASB’s regular Aug. 24 agenda as a board request for information and as a follow-up from a previous regular council meeting. The ASB is comprised of members of county council.
Board member Ernie Gendre noted concerns were brought to him from residents about how Stettler County sprays problematic trees in ditches and right-of-ways.
Gendre stated he was concerned about the issue because trees located in the wrong place should be considered weeds.
Board member James Nibourg stated clearing trees costs money and the method Stettler County already uses is affordable, which includes spraying and some brushing or clearing. Nibourg added he felt no tree should ever be located in a Stettler County ditch or right-of-way.
Board member Dave Grover agreed with Nibourg, pointing out Stettler County has brushing equipment and that if residents want trees they should be located on private property, not the right-of-way.
Board member Justin Stevens noted he felt simply spraying trees was not getting at the root of the problem and clearing was the answer.
Nibourg responded only so much brushing can be done per year but perhaps Stettler County’s budget needs more money for brushing.
Director of Agriculture Services Quentin Beaumont responded to a photograph displayed at the meeting which showed a high wall of trees in a Stettler County ditch, the front row of which had been sprayed with herbicide.
Beaumont stated that strategy buys time and keeps the young growth from the edges of the road and he has found it wiser to spray first then clear the dead material. Beaumont asked that board members to clarify their desires.
The board unanimously passed a resolution that the staff go back to handling ditch trees as previously instructed and budgeted for. Beaumont responded his department will go back to ensure trees previously sprayed are under control.
It was noted several times during discussion that trees growing in ditches can affect county roads and impede producers from hauling equipment.
During Beaumont's regular report, board members heard weed inspections and issues are ongoing. He stated in his report to the board that weed inspections on lease lands, the Red Deer River banks and residential subdivisions are ongoing, while his department is completing seven outstanding weed notices.
Chair Les Stulberg asked if those seven notices signified a large number to which Beaumont responded yes, seven is a bit high for this time of year.
He stated that the vast majority of property owners address weed concerns but some people take a bit longer to comply than others.
Stulberg asked about the water level on the Red Deer River. Beaumont responded it’s above average for this time of year but the flow is dropping a bit.
Board members discussed a photo included in Beaumont’s report that showed common tansy, a noxious weed, growing in numbers on the banks of the Red Deer River. Beaumont stated that the provincial government provides $5,000 per year for that which usually covers costs because the main expenses are tied to labour and travel.
Board members accepted Beaumont's report for information.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review