Havre Daily News
There is a difference between nuisance weeds and noxious weeds, and there are efforts to control the growth of both types in Havre and Hill County.
A noxious weed is defined as an exotic plant species that may render land unfit for agriculture, forestry, livestock, wildlife or other uses, Hill County weed and mosquito coordinator Terry Turner said today. Noxious weeds also may harm native plant communities, he added.
There are 27 plant species that are listed as noxious weeds by the state Department of Agriculture. They fall into three categories: those that are currently established and generally widespread, weeds recently introduced or rapidly spreading, and those that have not yet been found or are found only in small, scattered infestations.
It is unlawful for people to permit noxious weeds to propigate on their property, Turner said. Landowners are given 14 days to act after they receive notice that noxious weeds have been found on their land, and they have the option of entering into weed managment plans to reduce infestations, he said. Turner said landowners face fines if they do not act. Those fines are determined by a judge, but people generally have to pay 150 percent of the cost of eradication, Turner said.
The city of Havre has an ordinance that deals with nuisance weeds. A nuisance plant is defined as a weed or grass that is allowed to grow more than 8 inches high, city public works director Dave Peterson said. Havre Mayor Bob Rice said the city issued 77 tickets last week to property owners for nuisance weed violations. The tickets carry a $150 fine.
Noxious weeds are more expensive to get rid of than other weeds, and their removal involves more chemicals and more labor, Turner said. The plants are rapid invaders, and can increase their land coverage by 33 percent per year, he said. About half of the noxious species are poisonous, and some of the plants have root systems that run as deep as 40 feet.
"A person says they can't afford to remove them," he said. "Well, they can't afford not to."
There are several species of noxious weed the Hill County Weed District is working to eradicate, Turner said. Spotted knapweed covers less than 100 acres of land in the county, but it contains a toxin that kills surrounding vegetation and increases soil erosion by a third. The erosion, in turn, increases the water temperatures in streams and can lead to fish kills, he said. The district is working for 100 percent eradication of the plant, he said.
There are about 5,500 acres of field bindweed in the county, Turner said. The plant has white, bell-shaped flowers and can choke out trees, he said.
Some people have purple loosestrife in their gardens and need to remove the plants, he said. The European ornamental flower was added to the state noxious weed list six years ago.