In the cool of the morning in southwestern Colorado, things are beginning to heat up at Horizon Environmental Services (HES) Inc., in the rangeland outside Durango. Little rugged utility vehicles — all with spray tanks — are being loaded onto trailers. Crews huddle with aerial maps in order to understand exactly what they will be spraying and how best to get there. Different trucks and trailers, some loaded with unique equipment, are arranged in a fashion similar to planes preparing for takeoff.
Standing calmly in the middle of it all is Juliann Campbell, sipping her coffee and responding to the occasional question. The air traffic control job is really up to her son Levi Mead and his colleague Zack Tripp, who move among the crews making sure everyone’s clear on today’s mission. Campbell’s is more the job of managing the airport.
How many crews will be out today? Campbell pauses and counts under her breath later in the morning as she guides her big pickup back a dirt road.
“We’ll have eight crews out today,” she answers, as another phone call comes in on the truck’s hands-free unit.
A Rugged, Far-Flung Business
Eight crews, with a variety of equipment, spread out among the foothills, draws, well sites and rangeland around Durango. With much of the work being close-by, this might be considered a “light” day for HES, the business Campbell founded while still teaching elementary school some 20 years ago. This year, her company adds an Environmental Respect Award for Land Management to the resume.
“I had summers off, so it seemed to fit,” she says, explaining the start-up. The family moved out into the country and she and her kids went to work, first managing their own land, then beginning to work for others who needed custom application services.
“We really built all this out here together,” Campbell says as she waves her hand toward the office, workshop, horse barn and equipment yard. Since that time, the family business has grown. Levi and his wife Trish work with Campbell at the Durango location while his sister, Reanna, runs another location in Arizona.
HES, like many vegetation management businesses, now find itself providing a full range of land management services. Like custom applicators that became fully-integrated crop input retailers serving farmers, these businesses now focus on what the land needs rather than simply killing unwanted vegetation. They focus on client objectives for their land.
Open an HES brochure and you’ll find a long list of services under headings such as weed inventory and management, land restoration, woody invasive control and land management. Out west, invasive weeds have begun to crowd out native species, with negative impact on landowners of all kinds, from private ranchers to oil companies to local, state and federal governments. HES — licensed for herbicide applications in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming as well as Colorado — is able to compete for work with companies or agencies managing land across those five states.
“It keeps us on our toes,” says Campbell. “We work hard to stay up to date with the research and the training part of our business.”
HES’ client base includes private landowners, residential and commercial developers, homeowners associations and subdivisions, federal, state, county and city governments, tribal entities, utility and pipeline R.O.W. companies, mines, oil and gas exploration and development and general contractors.
Considering the web of rules and regulations that her clients are working inside, continuous learning is required. Some high-profile reclamation work HES tackles means working with stakeholders at the municipal, county and state levels — all at the same time.
“It helps that we’ve worked with these people through time and earned their trust,” says Mead.
Note: Horizon Environmental Services is a 2012 Land Management Environmental Respect Award winner. For more information on this program, which is sponsored by DuPont, click here.