By Miriam Raftery
January 24, 2017 (Boulevard) – A reader alerted us that after picking up free sandbags recently at the Boulevard Fire Station, he noticed “hoary mustard weed growing out of the sand they used…The hoary mustard is a terrible weed that is spreading in Boulevard on equipment or anything that gets dirty and now is in sand bags spreading into even more areas. Once on someones property they will be fighting it forever as it invades gardens and any disturbed soil.”
He adds that even herbicides don’t work well on the weed, that can choke out native plants , and that it can germinate years after seeds are spread. Our reader indicated he returned the sand to the fire station.
We contacted the County regarding the issue and submitted a public records request for the contract with the company that provided the sand.
Alex Bell, communications officer for the County, replied, “The Department of Public Works has a contract (attached, per your PRA) with JEB Sand & Gravel in order to provide free sand to unincorporated county residents to be used for sandbags. The sand is sent to eight locations in the unincorporated county:
- Valley Center Fire Protection District Station 2: 28205 North Lake Wohlford Road, Valley Center
- Pauma Valley-Rincon, Cal Fire Station 70: 16971 Highway 76
- Valley Center Cal Fire Station 50: 1587 Highway 78, Julian
- Ramona Station: 3410 Dye Road, Ramona
- North County Fire Protection District, Station 4: 4375 Pala Mesa Drive, Fallbrook
- Cal Fire Station 30: 17304 Highway 94, Dulzura
- Bonita/Sunnyside Fire Department: 4900 Bonita Road, Bonita
- Boulevard Fire Department: 40080 Ribbonwood Road, Boulevard
After your email, the Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures (AWM) sent an inspector to the sand mine to inspect for hoary mustard or any other invasive weeds. After a thorough inspection, it was determined that there is no observed contamination by hoary mustard or other weeds.
AWM has shared with me that hoary mustard is already present in the Boulevard community. They are not considered “noxious weeds” that are covered by the California Food and Agriculture Code. This is because the weed is already widespread throughout San Diego county and can be spread by shoes, tires, birds, etc.
Staff will follow up with the Boulevard Fire Station to share measures they can take to ensure the sand does not become contaminated with weeds after it is delivered. If a resident finds weeds on their property, one option would be to contact the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), a partner of AWM, for advice and resources available to property owners on how to eliminate weeds.