Despite previously voting to leave the Tri-County Cooperative Weed Management Area group, it looks like the commissioners from Union, Wallowa and Baker counties, who make up the Tri-County group, have now decided to try to make it work by going to go back to its roots.

Last week, Union County Commissioner Steve McClure, Wallowa County Commissioner Susan Roberts and Baker County Commissioner Bill Harvey met in La Grande to discuss the steps going forward with the group.

The agency was created in the early 1990s to control weeds that threaten the region’s farms, ranches and wildlife habitat. With the three counties working as one, they have an easier time getting funding to go toward destroying the noxious weeds. They work to eradicate weeds on both private and public lands in the region.

Tri-County works in partnership with state and federal land management agencies, as well as private contractors, to accomplish its goals.

However, Baker County had become dissatisfied with Tri-County and was pushing for more transparency from the agency. In November 2017, the Baker County Commissioners voted unanimously to leave the agency. Harvey said at that meeting that it was the county’s intention to create a weed coordinator position paid for by grants to
implement a county weed-control program that would replace Tri-County, according to a Baker City Herald article.

Fast forward a few months, and the commissioners from the three counties are looking to stay in the agency.

At last week’s meeting, McClure said he wants to see the counties stay in the Tri-County agency because of the benefits that come out of the agency.

The commissioners agreed they’d like Tri- County to have an advisory committee with representatives from the counties’ individual weed boards.

The advisory committee would answer to an executive board. That executive board would mirror the original inter-governmental agreement (IGA) in which there was a nine-member board made up of a commissioner from each county, the weed board supervisor of each county, and another representative from each county.

“I can’t do the day-to-day operations,” Roberts clarified after there was discussion on what would be expected from the executive board.

See complete story in Monday's Observer