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Crabtree retires after 31 years on the job

Idaho County Weed Management Supervisor Carl Crabtree (right) takes a few moments to visit with former Idaho County Assessor Jim Beckman.

Photo by David Rauzi
Idaho County Weed Management Supervisor Carl Crabtree (right) takes a few moments to visit with former Idaho County Assessor Jim Beckman.


GRANGEVILLE — After defending Idaho County from invaders for 31 years, Carl Crabtree is stepping down.

Crabtree finished his last day on Monday, March 30, as Idaho County Weed Management supervisor, a position he’s held since 1984 to cover control and eradication of noxious weeds within a region that is 85 percent publically owned and the same land mass as the state of Massachusetts.

People are the number one spreader of weeds, and Idaho County sits at the crossroads for that for travelers between Washington and Montana. “And we can grow every weed from desert weeds to tropical weeds,” he said due to the county’s differing elevations and rainfall amounts.

Yet, Idaho County has worked hard to keep ahead of the spread. Last year, for example, Crabtree noted that 2,500 different weed sites, which were treated for eradication, were gone through and 1,105 were found with no weeds; nearly 45 percent:

That’s a number others can’t do,” he said.

Noxious weeds can have significant economic and environmental impacts, from their overtaking and choking out of native plants to the effects on agriculture in crop yields and livestock health issues. Idaho has 65 different species of weeds designated noxious by state law. Nationwide, the financial impact from noxious weeks exceeds $7 billion annually.

“I’d like to think I leave behind a control program that is second to none in the state,” he said, one that has been recognized for its programs and cooperative efforts both within Idaho as well as nationwide.

“And I’m proud of that,” he said.

Crabtree is quick to point out this program is a success because of the partnerships it has formed and fostered with private landowners, public agencies and other governmental jurisdictions.

Among the programs notable successes was formation of three weed management areas (WMA) within the county, starting with the Salmon River WMA in 1994. This was the first program in the state to utilize the current model of integrated weed management that uses a combination of methods – including chemical, biological and physical – to provide invasive species control for each situation.

Since, this has become the template for the State of Idaho; those looking to qualify for project grants are required to belong to a WMA, Crabtree said.

Overall, local and regional success in the program, he said, came as a result of “being able to partner with people and do it as a group, because it’s a cooperative effort. That’s the difference between our program and everyone else’s.”

Crabtree has served as president of the Idaho Weed Supervisor’s Association, Idaho Weed Control Association and the Idaho Weed Coordinating Committee, the last of which he organized. He served in a leadership role when Idaho was developing and implementing a state strategic plan for managing noxious weeds, and raised awareness on weed management at national meetings.

But not all of his 31 years was solely as weed supervisor. Crabtree noted the first 17 years of his job was also spent as head of the Idaho County 4-H program. Helping to build this program he noted as another achievement during his county service, conducted in cooperation with Mary Schmidt (now employed with The Spirit Center at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood) and Susie Heckman who has been the program manager for the last 14 years.

As for Crabtree’s replacement, applications are currently being reviewed by the Idaho County Commissioners.

While his public service work has come to a close, Crabtree said he has no intent on retiring, but will be focusing his efforts on Spade Limousin Ranch, a cattle operation near Grangeville owned by him and his wife, Carolyn.

“The biggest adjustment in all this will be for her,” he smiled.


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