So many weeds, so little time: Riverton council orders stoppage of weed control on major streets in favor of city parcels

The City of Riverton is asking residents to take care of weeds on their properties, especially in alleys. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Riverton residents will have to get out their weed whackers, grass trimmers, and mowers following action of the city council Tuesday night. The city will no longer cut weeds in front of businesses and residences along Main Street, North and South Federal, Pershing and other major collector streets as has been their practice in the past.

The reason: It’s in the city code.

City Administrator Steven Weaver first mentioned the subject at the last regular council meeting when it was brought to his attention that city crews did weed control on some streets, but not others. “To be fair and consistent to businesses and residents alike, I recommend we follow the city code,” he said Tuesday night. “To do otherwise seems to be inequitable.”

Investigating the city investment in weed control on those streets mentioned above, Weaver said city staff had “probably spent 80 hours of work and expended $2,400 on weed control in the last couple of months.”

He also brought up the issue of weed control in alleys.
“We’ve told people that they are responsible for cutting weeds in the alleys behind their residences, but that is not in the code. The alleys are some of the worst weed areas around. If they are required to go up the front of the curb (for weed control) they should do the alleys as well to keep the town clean and beautiful for all,” he said

Council member Todd Smith made a motion to follow the city code as recommended, Council member Eric Heiser seconded. “We need to follow the code and set the example, or change the code,” Smith said. He said his concern was that the city was not taking care of its own property around town while clearing weeds on other people’s property.

“I think we have an excellent weed crop this year,” said Councilor Richard Gard. “I noticed weeds up and down the sidewalk when I was walking to the county fair this year, and I don’t usually get city related calls at home, but last night I had two, and they were both about weeds.”

Gard said while driving around town he thought it was accurate to say that every fourth yard or so “seems dry and full of weeds. I don’t know if it’s economic or not, but it’s not just a few but a lot of residences.”

Gard did say he thought it was a good idea to maintain the city’s major arterial streets.

Council member Lars Baker, the supervisor of the Fremont County Weed and Pest District, said he thought “there is an incredible amount of room for improvement” in keeping city parcels weed free. He noted an area on West Main that was city owned “and it is loaded with Russian Knapweed. If you sprayed that with an herbicide in the spring, it’d just be grass now, there would be no weeds.”

He also mentioned there is a significant amount of “puncture vine” along the city’s sidewalks and streets. “If you ride a bicycle in Riverton, you know what puncture vine is.”

Mayor Ron Warpness noted the city already has a weed control ordinance. “Our job is to get the public to comply with it.“

Smith’s motion to enforce the code and the ordinance on the books passed unanimously. The council also will discuss the matter in more detail at an upcoming work session.