By Tony Parra
Dan Kinnison may have the solution to the tumbleweed problem in Roosevelt County in the form of a machine.
The retired Nebraska farmer said his tumbleweed eradicator is relatively new, but it can destroy and break the weeds into little pieces. Kinnison owns a company, Prestige Manufacturing Inc., based out of Kimball, Neb.
Kinnison has made tumbleweed fence eradicators which snag the tumbleweeds off the fences and shred them, leaving a trail of small tumbleweed pieces
Roosevelt County Administrator Charlene Hardin said there is currently a request for proposals to either clean roads or supply equipment for the eradication of tumbleweeds. Hardin said the deadline for proposals is Thursday and Kinnison is the only person to submit a proposal so far.
Roosevelt County Commissioner Paul Grider said residents complain every year about the tumbleweed problem in the community.
“I get calls from people who have their roads blocked because of tumbleweeds,” Grider said. “All we are trying to do is clear a path. It’s (tumbleweed problem) a problem in every district.”
Roosevelt County residents near the Melrose bombing range have been the most vocal in their displeasure.
Sharon Russell of Floyd went before the commissioners during a Dec. 21 commission meeting to see if they could help with the tumbleweed problem plaguing Roosevelt County residents. Russell said the tumbleweeds were stacked 10 to 15 feet high in some areas and that it once took her an hour to clear a path approximately 20 feet to reach the house her family owns near the bombing range.
Kinnison said his company has been making tumbleweed eradicators for the last five years for ranchers and government entities in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. Kinnison said the tumbleweed eradicator is made of a steel frame and has two rubber wheels near the front. It is pushed by a tractor.
The fence cleaner has drum rotators with rubber belts. The machine grabs the tumbleweeds off of the fence, swings them into a compartment which has steel rods to grind the tumbleweeds, and deposits the shreds on the ground.
Grider said seeds will be left behind, but the only cure for seeds is to burn the tumbleweeds. The machine does not include an apparatus to collect the tumbleweeds’ remains.
“It’s hard to destroy them,” Kinnison said. “It’s dangerous to burn them because of high winds and dry grass.”
Kinnison said a fence tumbleweed eradicator will costs about $4,500, but a modified tumbleweed eradicator to clean county roads could cost between $7,000 to $7,500.
Kinnison said his company has made approximately 25 tumbleweed eradicators for Wyoming, 25 for Colorado and 25 for Nebraska.