Weed Free Hay Policy for Public Lands

Beginning November 1998, users of BLM administered land in Utah will be required to use only certified noxious weed free hay, straw or mulch. Approved products for livestock feed on public lands include pellets, hay cubes, processed grains and certified hay, straw or mulch normally available at some feed stores and producers in Utah.

Noxious weeds are a serious problem in the western United States and are rapidly spreading at an estimated rate of 14 percent each year. Species like Leafy Spurge, Squarrose Knapweed, Russian Knapweed, Musk Thistle, Dalmatian Toadflax, Purple Loosestrife, and many others are not native to the United States and have no natural enemies to keep the population in balance. These undesirable weeds invade healthy ecosystems, displace native vegetation, reduce diversity and destroy wildlife habitat. Widespread infestations can lead to soil erosion and stream sedimentation. These noxious weeds impact revegetation efforts by out competing desirable species, they reduce wild and domestic grazing capacities, can occasionally irritate public land users by aggravating allergies, and certainly threaten federally protected plants and animals.

Tall WhitetopIn January 1996, the Bureau of Land management (BLM) published Partners Against Weeds, (PAW) an action plan for the Weed Management program in the Bureau. The PAW plan lists seven goals, the first being to develop a prevention and early detection program. The PAW recommends developing and enforcing a policy to "ensure seeds, seed mixtures, hays, grains and straws are free of weed seed" as a prevention and detection strategy.

Utah's BLM Resource Advisory Council (RAC) developed a guideline requiring certified weed free forage to be used on BLM lands by anyone having the need to take forage with them when using BLM public lands. The guidelines were approved by both the Utah State Director and the Secretary of the Interior in 1997.

To implement the goal and guideline BLM published a proposed weed free rule in February 1998. The final rule was published in September 1998, and became final on November 23, 1998. Because of the diverse make up of public land users a one (1) year phase in period will be allowed to give time to provide information on this requirement and allow time for individuals to locate where they can purchase weed free products.

Region Four, of the United States Forest Service has required noxious weed free hay, straw and mulch on Utah National Forests since January 1994. Anyone who knowingly and willfully violates the noxious weedfree certification requirement on BLM lands may be subject to a fine or no more than $1,000, or imprisonment of not more than 12 months, or both, as defined in 43 U.S. code 1733(a).