Jun 25, 2014 8:53 PM by Greg Dingrando
EL PASO COUNTY - El Paso County public work crews have a new toy and its called the "Tumbleweed Eater."
It's a piece of farming equipment retrofitted specifically to tackle the county's massive tumble weed problem.
"There's some places around here that had 30-40 ft drifts last October and November," said county resident Russell Freeman.
But he's not talking about snow snow drifts, he's talking about tumbleweed drifts. Freeman said it's the worst its ever been and its more than just an ugly inconvenience.
"You can't get to work, its hard on fences. You can't use your facilities cause there's just tumbleweeds everywhere," said Freeman.
El Paso County has been trying to get rid of them for months using mowers, farm equipment, even snow plows, but nothing worked.
All it was doing was compounding the problem. What we mowed ended up staying in the ditch, then more tumbleweeds on top. We just couldn't get a handle on it," said Steve Barden with El Paso County Public Services.
That is until until now, thanks to the Tumbleweed Eater.
Originally they were having trouble picking the tumbleweeds up, but after some special modifications to some farm equipment, all they have to do is line it up and get out of the way.
The Tumbleweed Eater grinds up the tumbleweeds, then shoots what's left into the pastures. It's not the fastest thing in the world, but a lot better than what they were doing.
"The area we're standing on has been cleared 3 times previously. This is our 4th time out here so you can see how its been such a labor intensive process," said Max Kirschbaum with El Paso County Public Works.
"We're probably looking at getting 2-3 miles of this real heavy packed tumbleweeds done per day," said Barden.
It's a huge relief for the workers and the county's budget.
"Not only will it pay back quickly, but we've got a piece of equipment that will be usable for years to come," said Kirschbaum
That's great news for residents like Freeman who have seen enough tumbleweeds to last a life time.
The county's biggest challenge is they're having to play catch up with months worth of tumbleweed build up. Workers said next year when they can get out ahead of the problem it will be even easier.