Yellow Leafy Spurge

Letter to the Editor: Leafy spurge rearing its ugly head

Dear Editor:
This is the time of year that our world blooms in Rio Blanco County. However one yellow head is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”: the yellow leafy spurge—and it affects land from Trappers Lake to Kenney Reservoir.
Landowners and especially ranchers should be on guard. This exotic invasive yellow flower can spit its seeds out 15 feet and has roots 29 feet deep. It can survive drought and flooding and takes over productive hayfields and riparian areas. Before you know it your fields are covered over with a poisonous carpet of hay field suppressing weeds. Poisonous to cattle and wildlife—it’s one resident you really don’t want.
The good news is help is available: Jane Turnburke, director of Rio Blanco County Weed and Pest Department, says a 50% match is available for chemicals to eliminate this pest (up to $500 each landowner, first come first serve, funds are limited).
Her office is open for pick up and sales on Thursday from 7 a.m. to noon in Meeker and her phone number is 970-878-9670.
Right now is the best time to treat it.
Don’t delay, let’s get rid of this western menace to our hayfields and lands by taking action before it goes to seed, which is usually the end of July. The White River Alliance is committed to a healthy river basin ecosystem for ranchers, hunters, and all residents and leafy spurge is a threat we can control—if we all work together.

Shawn Welder
President, White River Alliance

Leafy Yellow Spurge aka Euphorbia Esula

Leafy Yellow Spurge aka Euphorbia Esula

White River Alliance
From WRA President

President’s Letter

Dear Rio Blanco Editor:
Over the past several years, the White River has drawn a great deal of attention and concern from folks along our valley. Landowners, residents and even seasonal visitors to the area have noticed increased development and other activities along the river, and more recently, algae blooms. The algae blooms have prompted a vigorous response by locals and government agencies to find out their cause and what we can do to promote and maintain a healthy river.
The White River Alliance is a product of this attention. Our members are folks that care about the river and think we can do something, now, to promote a healthy river through improved stewardship and better awareness of how our activities are so significant to the river. We are a non-partisan, proactive organization simply wanting to share information and bring people who truly care about our river together.
As land owners along the river, we’ve greatly benefited from being involved and we continue to develop a better understanding of our role as stewards of the land and resources along the river. We are now taking a closer look at how our own trout ponds, cattle grazing, use of pesticides and herbicides, and other activities could have an effect on the river and what adjustments we can make to help.
As a result, I personally have a new outlook on what we can do to improve our own stewardship practices. Join our organization to connect with others who share the same concern and regard for a healthy White River and you’ll be helping, too. We know the landowners along the river, and everyone else that cares about our river, wants to support and maintain a world class fishery, our healthy resources, agriculture and the beautiful valley that the White River provides.
Water is becoming ever more important and it is, of course, a resource vital to our survival. You don’t have to be a riverfront landowner to be a stakeholder in the White River, it’s everyone’s river! So please support and take a closer look at the folks around here that are striving to promote a secure and healthy watershed for all of us. My experience as a member of our local Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy District shows more than ever that our community desperately needs to support a secure water future that goes hand in hand with a healthy river.
Please consider supporting our effort by becoming a member and getting involved. We’re a registered Colorado non-profit organization having about 20 members paid-up members already. Dues, set at $25 per person or $30 per couple, can be sent to our treasurer, Lois Williams, P.O. Box 183, Meeker 81641-0183.
Please drop us a line if we can help connect you with contacts and good sources of information about the White River. Thank you for your interest.
Shawn Welder
Upriver Landowner and Outfitter
President, White River Alliance and Board Member, Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy District

White River Alliance
Citizens’ Group Forms

White River Alliance formalizes structure, asks for survey completions

June 24, 2018

MEEKER | A recently formed citizens’ group calling itself the White River Alliance has been participating in many of the county algae task force meetings. Several of the founding Alliance members and others met this past Saturday at Welders’ Outfitting just above the confluence of Marvine Creek with the White River.

These founders approved bylaws for the organization and confirmed and elected the initial officers and board directors for the group. Shawn Welder is president, Lois Williams is treasurer and Reed Kelley is secretary. Three additional elected directors, Deirdre Macnab, Bob Regulski and Roy Wedding comprise the rest of the initial board. Three additional directors may be named later.

According to their bylaws, the Alliance’s purpose is to promote citizen engagement surrounding the protection and conservation of the White River watershed, largely in Rio Blanco County, and to encourage awareness of the value of the river, and to protect its water for drinking, wildlife, and area farming, ranching and recreation. Any person or organization who subscribes to their purpose and pays annual dues currently set at $25 may become a voting Alliance member.

The Alliance bylaws also established an annual meeting of the full membership in January when officers and other board directors are to be elected going forward.

The primary focus that stimulated the formation of the group is the algae bloom that the White River has been experiencing the last five or six years. Dr. Bob Dorsett, an advisor to the Alliance, told the group Saturday that the river through the Town of Meeker was already showing green from bank to bank due to beginning algae growth. Dorsett fears the growth could be made worse than ever this summer on account of very low stream flows. The river is reported to have reached a runoff high of less than 2,000 cubic feet per second back on May 11, which is very early for the run-off peak.

Alliance president Welder says the group’s intent is to be ambassadors for the river and the watershed. The letter he delivered to the county’s Algae Technical Advisory Group in March meeting described the organization as wanting to be inclusive of all folks concerned about the river while emphasizing the need to look at historical information and to be proactive in the pursuit of actions to improve the health of the river.

Welder said, “The Alliance’s intention is to use a community-based approach in moving forward with promoting improved management practices.” He reported that members of the group have been spending time ‘in the river,’ looking, for example, at the macroinvertebrate populations and finding that there are robust and healthy insect “fish food” populations above where heavy aerial spraying for insects as well as intensive agricultural uses, fertilizer use, fish feeding and river manipulation activities have happened, but with drastic drop-off of these populations below that point.

Among other matters Saturday, the group discussed urging longtime White River Valley residents to take advantage of the short “History of the White River” Survey which the Conservation Districts now have available on their website as part of the river algae study ( to help define the river situation. Landowners near the river are also asked to take a separate landowner/manager survey. Contact Tristan Nielsen at the Districts’ offices 970-878-9838.

Welder said the group is urging that consideration be given to discontinuing the aerial spraying of the chemicals malathion and permethrin—insect “adulticides” which have been used in recent years—and instead looking at the alternative of using Bti, a bacterium effective as a larvicide for mosquitoes.

“We’re comparing our experiences here,” he said, “with those of the Gunnison River Basin’s, where they have banned the use of these chemicals to the great improvement of river health. We also want to push for the consideration of improved management practices involving instream and pond manipulations, fish stocking, sediment transport and nutrient load, feed stations and the need for riverbank vegetation. We believe there’s enough information at hand to do some things now.”

Anyone interested in being a part of the White River Alliance can contact Welder at 970-314-5923or at, or mail a check for the dues made out to the White River Alliance to Lois Williams at P.O. Box 183, Meeker 81641.

White River Alliance