A crew from Horizon Environmental Services was knocking down chest-high willows trying to take over a stretch of the King Consolidated Ditch off County Road 510 north of Ignacio.
After an excavator outfitted with an arm tipped with a rotating blade chewed the tops off, crew members dripped herbicide on the stumps to inhibit regrowth and finished by applying another herbicide on noxious weeds.
This is part of our integrated vegetation-management approach, company owner and president Juliann Campbell said as she watched the operation. This means we use a multitude of strategies to get results.
Results have been good enough to earn the 22-year-old company the 2012 Environmental Respect Award for land management.
The award is given by DuPont, founded in 1802, and only one such award is given annually. The Environmental Respect Awards were begun in 1990 by agricultural retailers.
Campbell and her son, Levi Mead, will be in Washington. D.C., next week to receive recognition on Capitol Hill.
I think we won the award because we dont take a boilerplate approach to projects, Campbell said.
The company tailors its work for specific cases, she said, using preventive practices; mechanical, biological and chemical means; and reseeding.
We do soil work like grading and contouring, introduce soil amendments and do no-till and hydroseeding, Campbell said. We also plant trees and shrubs, including wetland jobs, and we do erosion control.
The day the crew was working on the King Consolidated Ditch, Campbell had crews elsewhere two eradicating noxious weeds and two on Colorado Department of Transportation projects. The CDOT jobs involved slope stabilization and soil conditioning in Telluride and seeding and hydromulching along Colorado Highway 140 in Breen.
Mike Carrigan, the DuPont official who nominated Horizon for the award, said annual recognition goes to agricultural production and nonfood production endeavors. But both honor efforts to protect the environment, he said.
Horizon has been a good steward of the environment, Carrigan said.
Campbell became grounded in environmental issues while working during her undergraduate years at the University of Wyoming, where she earned a degree in natural resources and education.
She founded Horizon Environmental Services 22 years ago but ran the company part time while teaching seventh-grade science at Escalante Middle School. Ten years ago, she and Mead decided to make it a full-time endeavor.
The company now has an office in Phoenix.
Horizon Environmental contracts frequently with CDOT and the Animas-La Plata Project and has worked in Utah, Nevada and New Mexico.
We did a job eradicating invasive Russian olive in New Mexico on 200 acres along the Rio Grande from Española to Belen, Campbell said. Some of the trunks were 5 feet in diameter and one had seven lateral trunks with trees growing out of them.
In Nevada, Horizon treated noxious weeds that were toxic to the desert tortoise that live in the right of way of the UNEV oil products pipeline from Utah to Las Vegas.
In Alamosa, the company is engaged in an ongoing project to control weeds that could damage the panels of a 157-acre solar farm.
Horizon has done work for federal and local government agencies, oil and gas companies, utility and mining interests, private industry and individuals.
Were true believers in protecting the environment, Campbell said. We take pride in our reputation for working to this end.