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News & Announcements

October 6, 2021
Battling Weeds With Workforce, Eco-Friendly Tactics

Parks Division teams are attacking the current proliferation of weeds by deploying extra worker-resources and utilizing ecologically sensitive tactics that will mitigate the problem in future seasons.

"Our Parks team is working every day removing weeds from over 580 medians and miles of sidewalks, while taking care of our sports fields and parks," says Public Works Director Regina Wheeler. "Since the seasonal demand for their work far exceeds the staff capacity, we’ve employed a contractor to help."

“The City is focusing on mechanical weed removal, chemical-free weed removal, and at the same time, encouraging native pollinator plants. It's a balancing act," Wheeler adds. 

In 2001, in an effort to protect its citizens from hazardous materials and toxic chemicals, the City of Santa Fe adopted the Integrated Pest Ordinance significantly limiting the use of chemicals to control weeds. More recently, the City signed a resolution supporting Bee City USA to reduce serious depletions of bee and butterfly species. Our weed mitigation strategy is part of a broader effort to achieve ecological balance by reducing harm and using native plants to create habitats for important pollinators.

“Removing weeds comes down to people power, both to cut the weeds and then groom the medians and shoulders,” says Acting Parks Division Director Melissa McDonald. “Last year’s COVID-induced hiring freeze applied to most City positions, so that set us back. Then, our new budget kicked at the peak of this year’s labor shortage, so we’ve been doing everything in our power to make up for lost time. We’re putting a lot of effort into staffing. We have a City crew of five workers to cut weeds, a contract crew of five workers, and an additional contract crew of six-to-eight workers just started.”

“Many of the weeds you see are actually the responsibility of private property owners to remove,” Wheeler says. “According to code, any sidewalk adjacent to private property must be cleared by the property owner, and the City is responsible for sidewalks next to public property.” 

To keep updated on where we are heading, you can check the City’s monthly median tracker: santafenm.gov/parks__recreation.

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