Tumbleweeds keep drivers from going home

Task force plans to ask for state funds to remove tumbleweeds

Pueblo County Tumbleweeds

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - A storm of tumbleweeds forced Joyce and J.D. Wright to find another way home.

A wide stretch of Boone Hill Road East, about 5 miles northeast of Boone, was overrun with tumbleweeds Tuesday afternoon.

"This would definitely be the worst we've ever had," Joyce Wright said. 

The couple made a U-turn and resorted to plan B. 

"Another 17 miles that we'll have to travel to get there, and we may not get home then," J.D. Wright said.

They remember the day the tumbleweed problem got out of control: November 17, 2013. Tumbleweeds were stacked so high around their home, they couldn't get out.

"You think of the fire danger there. That's almost a panic situation. You go thinking that your house is covered with thistles," Joyce Wright said.

They called their grandson, who cleared the tumbleweeds so they could get out.

It's a problem plaguing much of southeastern Colorado. Action 22, a lobbying organization, led a meeting in Pueblo Tuesday to talk about how to manage the Russian thistle. About 50 people, from across the region, shared experiences of dealing with tumbleweeds.

Crowley County Commissioner Tobe Allumbaugh said burning the weeds is not the solution. "We could seriously have a fire of epic proportions, and I don't know what that would do to southeastern Colorado," he said.

Like many counties, Crowley County has used a snowplow before to push the weeds out of the road. But many find it's a losing battle. 

That's why the machine's the best way to go," Allumbaugh said. "Once we run across the weed, it's dust."

He's talking about the county's "tumbleweed machine" that grinds up the weed. It's a luxury that most homeowners in drought-stricken areas can't afford.

"You'd like to get excited and cuss somebody about it, but it won't do you any good," said J.D. Wright. "It's a fact of life that we're dealing with."

Action 22 plans to form a task force so affected counties can declare tumbleweeds an emergency and then petition for state funding to remove the weeds. 

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