Group rallying in support of library xeriscape

Nathan Oster

The Greybull Town Council's decision to remove some of the bushes and shrubs around the library/museum and replace them with grass did not go over well with the volunteers who planted them in 2005.

At the time, their vision was a xeriscape, a form of landscaping that utilizes native, drought-resistant plants to reduce the amount of watering required. To help with the costs, they sought out and landed four grants totaling $17,000 from Pacific Power, National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Forest Service and the Wyoming Urban and Community Forest Council.

All are still listed as contributors on a Greybull Library and Museum Xeriscape Project sign outside the library/museum.  But the xeriscape everyone envisioned, and which is explained on the sign, no longer exists.

It started at the April meeting of the Greybull Town Council, when Public Works Director Jason Lampman requested and received the council's permission to remove the juniper bushes and some zeriscape elements. 

In his pitch, Lampman said the bushes and shrubs tend to collect wind-blown trash and debris, which in turn places a greater burden on his public works crew which is responsible for upkeep of the library/museum grounds.  

Lampman suggested replacing some of the zeriscape with a nice lawn as a way of eliminating that problem, saying it would look better anyway.  Council members agreed and the next morning, Lampman and his crew went to work.

Marvin Hunt, a longtime member of the Greybull Tree Board, was on his way to get a coffee when he noticed.  

"I couldn't believe it," he said.

What followed were several phone calls, and eventually, a meeting with top town officials.

While the council's April action called for the installation of grass, that has yet to happen. The project is on hold until Monday, which is the date of the next town council meeting.  Hunt and Rodney Ross, another member of the tree board, intend to be there.

Carrie Hunt, the town's administrator/finance director, said the issue will be on the evening's agenda.

Marvin Hunt voiced frustration in an interview this week.

"To be honest, I've been pretty PO'd over it for about five years now, just trying to get the people who were supposed to be taking care of it to actually do it. They just kept putting it off, basically doing enough to pacify us.

"It should take about a day a year for them  ... but it hasn't been done which is obvious when you start pulling it back."

Marvin Hunt said he, Ross and others would like to re-establish the zeriscape.

"It was supposed to be educational — in keeping with the themes of the library and museum," he said.

He said librarians have told him over the years that patrons ask questions about the plants and shrubs and that he still believes in the message they send about the importance of water conservation. 

But at the same time, Hunt said he has been frustrated by the town's position.

"I was told that if I want that stuff back in and I redo it, that I'd be in charge of taking care of it," he said.

Hunt and Ross spent a good part of their Saturday — "about 18 man-hours" between them, he said — cleaning up the plants and shrubs that remain in the xeriscape. "We're going to have to let it grow in, identify what's there and not there, and then start coming back in with what's missing," he said.