Frequently Asked Questions - Noxious Weed

Questions


What is a noxious weed?

Noxious weeds are nonnative plants that have been introduced to Washington through human actions. Because of their aggressive growth and lack of natural enemies in North America, these species are highly destructive, competitive, and difficult to control. They invade our croplands, rangeland, forest, praries, rivers, lakes, wetlands and estuaries. Their invasion causes both ecological and economic damages that affect us all.

Does the law require weed control?

Washington’s weed law (RCW 17.10) mandates the control of many weed species.
Class A weeds
Control will be required and enforced.
Class B Designate weeds
Are non-native designate species that are presently limited to portions of Washington State.

Class B Non-Designate weeds
Control will be required and enforced for: vehicle corridors, buffer strips, and in areas of limited distribution, control is encouraged in areas of large infestations.

Class C weeds
Are other non-native weeds found in Washington?

Who administer the weed law?

RCW 17.10 also establishes a program for administering the weed law. Education, coordination, and enforcement activities are carried out by three groups:

Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board:
Washington’s weed program is coordinated through the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board. The State Weed Board’s mission is to serve as responsible stewards of Washington’s land and resources by protecting and preserving it from the degrading impact of exotic, invasive noxious weeds. The state board pursues this mission by:

  • Increasing public awareness of weed problems through education
  • Coordinating and assisting County Weed Boards with their educational and weed control efforts
  • Assembling and distributing information on Washington’s weeds
  • Developing statewide integrated pest management plans for specific species
  • Promoting cooperation and compliance from state and federal land agencies and tribal governments
  • Developing the state weed list

County Noxious Weed Control Boards:
RCW 17.10 allows for the activation of a Weed Board in each county. County weed programs provide many services to the communities they serve, including:

  • Seeking to achieve voluntary landowner compliance with the state weed law through education
  • Providing the public with technical information on weeds and control options
  • Setting local weed control priorities
  • Carrying out weed enforcement actions as needed to protect resources

Weed Districts:
Established under Washington’s first weed laws, RCW 17.04 and 17.06, Weed Districts still operate in some regions of the state. These districts are responsible for weed control in small areas, typically the size of irrigation districts. Weed Districts have responsibilities and activities similar to county weed boards.

Washington State Department of Agriculture:
This department also plays a role in the state weed program by:

  • Performing any necessary enforcement activities in counties without activated Weed Boards
  • Negotiating and ruling in inter-county disputes

Who is responsible for weed control?

RCW 17.10 holds landowners, including counties and state land agencies, responsible for controlling weeds on their property. Federally owned lands are subject to the Federal Noxious Weed Act. Since many people are unfamiliar with noxious weeds, the State and County Weed Boards and Weed Districts are available to provide information on identification and control options. Landowners can choose the control method they feel is most appropriate for their property.

If people have weeds on their property and want to get rid of them, can the Chelan County Noxious Weed Department help?

In this situation, the department usually does two things: It sends the citizen information about different approaches to use such as chemicals and biological agents, and also makes recommendations over the phone.

If a person reports an infestation of weeds in their neighborhood, can the Chelan County Noxious Weed Department do something?

The department will send someone out to check on the situation. If  there is a problem with noxious weeds, the department will send a letter to the  property owner noting the legal responsibilities to control the weeds together  with information about how to identify and control the weed(s). The department  will monitor progress and work with the land owner if requested.

Are noxious weeds harmful to my health?

Some noxious weeds can be harmful to your health. While some species contain toxins that can be harmful on contact, others must be ingested to cause a reaction. In Skamania County, Tansy Ragwort is a potential threat. It is poisonous to cattle, horses and sheep, and causes liver failure when eaten. Visit this link for a complete look at poisonous plants in this region.

If people have weeds on their property they think are toxic, can someone at the Chelan County Noxious Weed Dep. tell them what the plants are?

That's difficult to do over the phone. In most cases, the department sends someone out to identify the plant in person.

What kind of economic impact do noxious weeds have in Washington State?

Noxious weeds reduce crop yields and require farmers to spend more time and money on weed management. Estimates include some of these staggering costs:

  • Infestations of Knapweed and Yellow Starthistle result in an annual cost of $950,000 in lost forage production in Eastern Washingon.
  • As a whole, Washington suffers over $100 million in annual crop loss.
  • Scotch broom results in $47 million annual reduction of timber production

In addition, every taxpayer contributes to the cost of noxious weed control along roadways and utility rights-of-way.

How do noxious weeds threaten local species?

Noxious weeds threaten local species  by reducing wildlife habitat and altering natural food sources. Often, noxious  weeds form dense monocultures (the invasive orang and yellow hawkweeds are a  great example of this), eliminating or drastically reducing forage plants in  hay fields and pastures and replacing native vegetation in open, undisturbed  natural areas, threatening biodiversity. Other noxious weeds are  water-guzzlers, and drain our water resources rapidly. Some noxious weed  species are allelopathic; which means they release toxins into the soil  that inhibit growth of nearby plants. In addition, noxious weeds are sometimes  the culprit of soil erosion, which in turn leads to reduced water quality.

Does each state and county have different noxious weeds?

Noxious weeds do vary from state to state and county to county. Please check with your local government to determine the noxious weeds of concern in your area, especially if you have recently moved from a different region.

In Washington, an annual weed list is generated with three classifications of weeds. Class A weeds are non-native species with a limited distribution in the state. Therefore, eradication of all Class A weeds is required by state law. Class B weeds are non-native weeds that are established in some regions of Washington, but are of limited distribution or not present in other regions of the state. In areas with these weeds present, control is optional; however, in areas with previously unrecorded presence or limited distribution, prevention of seed production is required. Class C weeds are widely established or of particular agricultural interest. Local control can be enforced if desired. (For a complete list of Washington State’s Noxious Weeds, visit http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/printable.htm)

How are noxious weed spread?

Noxious weeds can be spread in a variety of ways. While some of these methods are natural (wind, water, and wild animals), many seeds are spread with the help of human and pet traffic. Seeds can become caught in the tires or undercarriage of vehicles, including ATVs, caught in the traction of shoes and boots, and be transported by clothing. In addition, pets can be unknowing carriers of weed seeds, as burrs and other seeds get caught in their coats and paws.

Noxious weeds usually have more than one method for seed propagation; for example, they may send out rhizomes (horizontal underground stem; think blackberry canes) as well as generating a seedhead. This makes them quick breeders, and is an example of how they can begin dominating local flora and fauna.

How can I get rid of noxious weed on my property?

Several weapons are available for batting these noxious invaders. Options include:

  • Prevention activities, such as learning to recognize and eliminate weeds before they establish
  • Cultural methods, such as rotating crops and timing fertilizer applications
  • Mechanical methods, such as hand-pulling and managing tillage practices
  • Biological methods using natural enemies, such as insects and diseases that attack weeds and help suppress infestations
  • Herbicide control using EPA-approved products in compliance with the label

In many cases, these approaches can be integrated to provide the most effective management strategy. (For a free home weed survey and suggestions on weed management around your home, contact us.)

If people have weeds on their property and want to get rid of them, can the Chelan County Noxious Weed Department help?

In this situation, the department usually does two things: It  sends the citizen information about different approaches to use such as  chemicals and biological agents, and also makes recommendations over the phone.

If a person reports an infestation of weeds in their neighborhood, can the Chelan County Noxious Weed Department do something?

The department will send someone out to check on the situation. If  there is a problem with noxious weeds, the department will send a letter to the  property owner noting the legal responsibilities to control the weeds. A  booklet listing dangerous weeds and ways to control them also will accompany  the letter. The department will follow up on the problem, too.

Why does Chelan County have a noxious weed control program?

History - A state law passed in 1969 mandated that all counties in Washington have a program to combat noxious weeds. The Chelan County Noxious Weed Control Board was established April 22, 1986 and consists of five citizen volunteers who represent five districts that cover the entire county. The Board meets throughout the year and provides vision and direction for the weed control program.


Focus - Chelan County’s Noxious Weed Control Program focuses on education, notification, technical assistance and control of noxious weeds through voluntary compliance and enforcement.During the months of April through August, when the weeds are actively growing, the Weed Board employs a field staff with natural resource, horticulture and agriculture backgrounds to survey public and privately owned lands for noxious weeds and to work with landowners to achieve weed control.

What is the Noxious Weed Control Board and what does it do?

The Chelan County Noxious Weed Control Board was established to  direct the state mandated program as required by statute. The board consists of  five unpaid citizen volunteers who represent five districts that cover the  entire county. The board meets monthly and provides vision and direction to the  weed control department. While the program’s personnel are technically county  employees, they are hired, directed and supervised by the citizen board.

What is the Noxious Weed Control Program?

The Chelan County Noxious Weed Control Program focuses on education, prevention, technical assistance and control of noxious weeds through voluntary compliance. Preventing the spread of weeds is more effective and less costly than eradication.

From March through October, when weeds are growing the most rapidly, the program employs field staff to survey public and privately owned lands in Chelan County for noxious weeds and to work with landowners to achieve weed control. Much of the survey work is the result of citizens reporting infestations and asking for information and assistance in getting rid of noxious weeds on their property. Field staff finds additional infestations as they travel the county.

How is weed control enforced?

Once an infestation is identified, the landowner is given a variety of options, including hand pulling, mowing or cutting; advice on better pasture management; and using the most effective and least harmful methods of applying herbicides. The Chelan County Noxious Weed Control Board does not require people to use herbicides to control weeds. The majority of weed infestation are controlled voluntarily by landowners. Less than 1% of the know weed infestations are controlled by the weed program and, as authorized by state law, the landowners are billed.