Dawes County residents are being told not to worry if they see a helicopter flying along the White or Niobrara Rivers today – it’s simply doing an aerial survey looking for noxious weeds.
County Weed Superintendent Dan Wordekemper says Dawes County received a state grant this year to reduce noxious weeds in riparian areas and has until the end of the month to use or lose the remaining funds, so he decided on the helicopter.
Wordekemper says he’ll be in the chopper with the pilot taking photos and using GPS to pinpoint major infestations in the floodplains of both rivers so that he can return on the ground and spray them.
The helicopter was in the southern half of the Panhandle the past couple days on similar survey flights, but also did some spraying. Wordekemper says it’s scheduled to do some spraying tomorrow in Sheridan County.
Meanwhile, Wordekemper’s job got a little easier yesterday when the Dawes County Commissioners followed the lead of the state and removed bindweed from its list of noxious weeds that must be controlled.
He says the move isn’t because they’re winning the battle with bindweed, also known as morning glory, but because it’s impossible to control because it is so prolific and hardy.
Bindweed can put down a root system 5-feet deep and 10-feet in diameter its first year and eventually go as deep as 15-feet while growing new plants wherever the root is broken.
Wordekemper says he doesn’t have the equipment, resources, or manpower required to have any success against bindweed.