Community Agriculture Alliance: Who’s responsible for those weeds?

Tiffany Carlson
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Depiction of Routt County Right-of-Way Weed Management area off of Routt County Road 62.
Community Agriculture Alliance/Courtesy photo

Per the Colorado Noxious Weed Act: “Noxious weeds have become a threat to the natural resources of Colorado, as thousands of acres of crop, rangeland, and habitat for wildlife and native plant communities are being destroyed by noxious weeds each year.”

Noxious weed control is a group effort. It takes everyone doing their part to ensure we are not negating the effects of the management of those around us or spreading noxious weeds to new areas. Therein lies the question: who is responsible for those weeds?

Here is a general summary of who is responsible where:

  • Private landowners have a duty to manage weeds on their properties 
  • U.S. Highway 40 and state highways such as 131 and 134 are managed by the Colorado Department of Transportation
  • Public Lands are managed by each public land entity. In some instances, these public lands lease land to permittees who may be responsible for managing noxious weeds
  • Within the City of Steamboat Springs; roads, sidewalks, medians and trails are under the city’s jurisdiction
  • County Roads and rights-of-way are under county’s jurisdiction

The Routt County Weed Program is responsible for managing County Rights-of-way (ROW) which equates to nearly 1,700 miles of roadside. The County’s Weed Program manages noxious weeds as well as undesirable vegetation to help maintain road safety. Generally speaking, the County ROW is 30 feet from centerline. Though we try, we are not able, nor equipped to reach all the way to many fence posts that are set outside of the ROW. We often see strips of noxious weeds between the ROW and private fence lines. Please consider this area when planning your weed control efforts on your private lands.

If you notice noxious weeds within the County’s ROW, please report these infestations to the County Weed Program.

The spring, when plants are actively growing, is generally the best time for weed management (depending on the species), there may still be time left to tackle some noxious weeds this fall. First year rosettes from biennials such as musk thistle, common mullein and houndstongue (to name a few) can still be managed. Additionally, Canada thistle may be effectively managed in the fall before a killing frost, as this is usually the ideal time for the plant to translocate herbicides to roots where control is needed. Canada thistle can be treated with herbicides such as Aminopyralid (Milestone®) at 5-7 oz. per acre. 

Noxious Weed Technician Kristen Gornell depicting County right-of-way on County Road 14.
Community Agriculture Alliance/Courtesy photo

If you would like to learn more about noxious weeds, we invite you to join us for our annual Winter Weed Class that is held annually in March. Please contact the Routt County Noxious Weed Program by emailing Tiffany Carlson at or calling 970-870-5246 to learn more about noxious weed education events or to report any noxious weed infestations.

Tiffany Carlson is the Noxious Weed Supervisor for Routt County.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.