Many landholders see council weeds officers as the 'bad guys', that will prosecute them for noxious weeds on their properties, but Cooma-Monaro Shire Council weeds management officer Roger Roach is keen to stress that council's weeds officers are there to help and educate landholders and the wider community.
Mr Roach said most landholders will have weeds of some description on their properties.
He said the question is, are they being managed to prevent them from spreading to neighbouring lands, and impacting on the district's agricultural and environmental assets.
"Much of the weed management officer's time is spent inspecting private properties," Mr Roach said.
"As Cooma-Monaro Shire comprises approximately 500,000 hectares, the three weeds officers employed by council are kept very busy."
Mr Roach said landholders who are implementing an effective weed management program or are seeking advice on how to manage their weeds, have nothing to fear from the weeds officer.
Mr Roach stressed that regulatory enforcement using the provisions of the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 is only exercised as a last resort and only after extensive education, negotiation and consultation with the landowner.
The roles of the weeds officers include educating the public on weed identification and control, assisting in the development of weed management plans, school visits and o-ordinating mulit-landowner weed control programs.
"Property inspections are council's primary means of providing on-ground advice to landholders on weed identification and control," Mr Roach said.
"Landholders are encouraged to participate in inspections to gain knowledge and experience needed to implement an effective control program on their property."
Mr Roach said with an increasing number of people moving into lifestyle blocks from an city background it is often the case that these people have very little understanding of land management issues such as noxious weed control.
"This trend has seen a shift in the weed management officer's duties from merely enforcement, towards more of an educational role, hosting field days, providing fact sheets and media releases to raise awareness amongst landowners and the community of noxious weeds and their control.
The Monaro is plagued by a large variety of invasive weeds and weed management officers understand the financial impact and time constraints on a landholder's ability to comply with their weed control obligations and can assist with the prioritisation of a landholders weed control efforts through developing a weed management plan for their property.
Mr Roach said weeds officers can advise landholders on how to develop a weed management plan that ensures landholders concentrate their efforts on prioritising the timing and the best approach for the efficient control of infestations.
Weed management officers visit local schools to provide environmental and agricultural students with an introduction to noxious weeds and their impacts on the environment and agricultural sector.
They also regularly assist landholders and community groups with the coordination of broad scale weed control programs.
Over the last three years council staff have assisted with the coordination of numerous aerial Serrated Tussock control programs which have seen more than 6,000 hectares of dense Serrated Tussock treated in difficult and often remote terrain.
Council's weed management staff also assist community groups with grant applications to help with the costs of broad scale weed control efforts.
Mr Roach said agriculture funding bodies are receptive to grant applications from the community due to the significant damage that some weeds pose to the environment.
"Through these channels, council staff have assisted in ensuring that infestations of Scotch/English Broom and Gorse have been effectively managed throughout the shire and the invasion of Fireweed has been curtailed," he said.
"Unfortunately there are a small proportion of landholders who neglect to manage noxious weeds and seem to have little respect for the environment, their neighbours or their own assets.
"When no management is in place, noxious weeds have the potential to impose a significant financial and environmental burden on neighbouring land managers who are constantly battling the influx of seed from unchecked infestations.
"In these situations, council's noxious weeds officers are compelled under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 to take enforcement action to reduce the impact of uncontrolled weeds."
Mr Roach said enforcement processes are time consuming for weeds officers, costly to council and can cause undue financial pressures to those concerned.
"It is in the best interests for all concerned if this path can be avoided," Mr Roach said.
"Enforcement of the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 is not council's preferred means of ensuring that weed control obligations are met. However, it would be remiss of Council to allow unaddressed infestations of noxious weeds to impact on the rest of the community."
For further information contact council weeds officers Brett Jones - 64551940, Roger Roach - 6455 1942 or Warren Schofield - 64551943.