More mosquitoes? To be determined.

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MEEKER | It could be a buggier summer than usual. Or not.

Local pilot Lanny Coulter has reportedly told Mayor Regas Halandras he won’t spray for the town this year following public debate about aerial spraying.

If the aerial spraying doesn’t take place—as it has for more than 45 years—will Meeker be overwhelmed by mosquitoes? Not necessarily, according to Rio Blanco County Health Director Julie Drake. Drake  spoke to the Meeker Board of Trustees Tuesday regarding best practices for municipal mosquito management. Her presentation reaffirmed the inefficacy of “adulticiding” mosquito populations via aerial spraying that was shared by Dr. Bob Dorsett in a meeting last month.

“It’s the least effective mosquito control technique,” Drake said. “There are much better things. Larval management is the key to controlling mosquitoes…making sure they don’t hatch.”

Drake expressed concern that Meeker’s mosquito control efforts in the past have not been performed based on scientific data. “We need to think this through scientifically,” she said, and encouraged the board to seek the services of a professional entomologist.

That’s not likely to happen before the annual Range Call celebration, when aerial spraying has historically occurred.

“If you did not spray this year prior to the Fourth of July, in my opinion, that would be OK. The effectiveness is not there. It (the mosquitoes) may not be as bad as you think,” Drake said. Although residents may be extra aware of the pests if they know no spraying has occured.

Meeker wouldn’t be the first community to give up on aerial spraying. Gunnison County, which has also experienced an algae bloom, quit its aerial spraying program in 2013, opting for ground spraying and larvicide application. An annual fee is assessed for the program per residential unit within the county’s mosquito control district.

The RBC health department will be handing out DEET-based insecticides throughout Range Call with educational information. Residents are also encouraged to take proactive measures, such as applying larvicidal agents (readily available at hardware stores) to standing water, use of personal DEET insecticides, and removing standing water outside wherever possible, such as water that collects in old tires, buckets, etc., whether the aerial spraying occurs or not this year.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved a 3.2 liquor license renewal for Gofer Foods.
  •  Approved two special event liquor permits: MACC for the weekly summer rodeo and the Lions Club for the annual Chamber dinner June 29.
  • Agreed to give $1,000 to Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for construction of more benches and new bat boxes around town.
  • Rejected an incomplete bid for Phase II of the town water project because the bidder was unable to secure a driller. The board agreed to continue the bid process with new bids due July 3 at 11 a.m.
  • Speaking on behalf of the Piceance Mustangs, Diane Mobley suggested creating ways to create opportunities for people to view the wild horses.
  • Heard a presentation about public investing options from Chris Bates.
  • Trustee Travis Day said residents should “lock your cars” after a truck was stolen from the Curtis Creek Industrial Park area this week, and other vehicles were searched.
  • Attorney Melody Massih said the board will need to form a board of appeals to handle code enforcement appeals. Interested individuals with construction experience are asked to contact town staff.