County seeks to win battle over absinthe wormwood

Spreading like wildfire in the County of Stettler, the pesky plant absinthe wormwood could soon become a noxious weed.

At its regular meeting Dec. 8, county council gave first two readings to a bylaw to designate absinthe wormwood as a noxious weed.

Before this is actually declared, the bylaw must be approved by Agriculture Minister Jack Hayden, who serves as the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler and resides in the Endiang area where the weed is growing rampantly and most prominently in the county.

“I think the minister has some of the weeds growing on his own land,” Reeve Wayne Nixon said with a little humour.

Steps to declare the noxious weed were recommended by the Agricultural Service Board which all council members serve with.

“Absinthe wormwood is a widespread weed problem throughout the county, covering thousands of acres, and one which many ratepayers have been struggling to control,” said Quinton Beaumont, director of agricultural services.

“Naming it a noxious weed will give the ASB the legal authority to enforce control when needed.”

To control the weed that is easily spread by seed, the county plans to extensively monitor gravel pits and other parts of the county.

Chemicals are the most effective but not the only way to control absinthe wormwood, said Beaumont.

“This will be a five-year plan,” he said.

After educating residents and property owners for the first two to three years, the bylaw will be enforced.

County officials plan to official declare absinthe wormwood as a noxious weed by late winter in time to launch the program in early spring with weed work in the summer.

Although a small number of weeds have been observed in the neighbouring County of Paintearth to the east, absinthe wormwood does not appear to be a critical problem in other areas of Alberta, said Beaumont.