The Weed Science Society of America is introducing a new fact sheet
featuring state-level strategies in the battle against noxious weeds – those plants known for their negative impact on public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property. Once a weed is classified as noxious at the federal, state or local level, authorities can implement quarantines and take other actions to manage the weed and limit its spread.
In recent interviews with noxious weed authorities in various regions of the country, WSSA uncovered seven state-level best practices in noxious weed control that are featured in the new fact sheet. Here is a sampling of those successful strategies:
• Narrow your focus.
While there are 112 weeds on the federal noxious weed list, many states take a “less is more” approach. They try to limit their state-level list to weeds that represent the greatest threat. “We keep our list short and simple,” says Chelsey Penuel of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. “Otherwise it’s too hard for us to manage and too easy for landowners to forget.”
• Go local.
Many states with successful noxious weed programs focus on localization, with funds and control programs tailored to reflect each local community and its noxious weed challenges. Wyoming, for example, requires a local weed and pest organization in each of the state’s 23 counties – empowering them to fund control programs by levying local property taxes.
• Emphasize partnerships, not penalties.
Without exception, the experts we interviewed say they use enforcement actions only as a last resort. Instead, they partner with landowners and land manager to help them control noxious weeds as quickly and affordably as possible. That includes subsidizing the cost of herbicides and even establishing a loaner program for application equipment.
Noxious weed specialists in both Mississippi and Delaware collaborate closely with their respective Departments of Transportation (DOT) to identify and control noxious weeds along roadsides. When DOT personnel identify infestations, they record GPS coordinates so teams can map, treat and monitor the weeds over time.
• Involve the public.
In Wyoming where outdoor activities are a way of life, the state’s Weed and Pest Council focuses on public outreach so local residents are more aware of noxious weed risks. Among their more visible efforts are the “boot brush” stations now posted at trail heads, fishing sites and other outdoor gathering spots. The stations include information about noxious weeds found in the area, as well as a brush visitors can use to clean their shoes so they don’t take noxious weed seeds with them when they leave.