Russian knapweedNoxious Weeds - A Growing Problem Uintah Basin Weed Management Partnership

Noxious weeds are much more serious than dandelions in your lawn. Thousands of acres of farm land, riparian areas and rangeland are already seriously affected and noxious weeds are spreading rapidly in many areas. The spread of noxious weeds is being called "Biological Wildfire", because these weeds often start from a single source, and if unchecked, can consume large areas in a short time. Unlike the often temporary negative impact of fire, the damage from noxious weeds is often long lasting, even permanent, and the damage continues to spread with little hope of control. Areas in Montana, Idaho and California have lost 80 to 90% of the carrying capacity of critical big game winter ranges. Estimates by western land managers indicate that noxious weeds are costing $100,000,000 a year in lost revenue and control efforts and an additional 4,600 acres of rangeland per day are being seriously impacted on western rangelands. Quarantine of hay and other agricultural crops is a threat in some parts of the country.

Uintah, Duchesne and Daggett Counties are not exempt from noxious weed problems. Thousands of acres have already been infested with tamarisk, tall whitetop, Russian olive and Russian knap weed. Over 127 new starts of noxious weeds of 14 different species have been found and treated in the Uintah Basin in the last 6 years, and several others new species are reported in nearby areas.

Aside from minimizing vegetation disturbance and rapid revegetation of disturbed areas, it is by reducing the transport of seeds, and eradication of these new starts, that the most effective control can be made, and where limited funds and workforce should be concentrated. Although many weeds are spread by wind, running water and wildlife, other weeds are spread by means more controllable by man. Livestock and equipment movement are known to be carriers of weed seeds from one area to another. Even home decorators gather and spread noxious weeds such as tall whitetop, which looks like babies breath.

In September of 1998, BLM approved regulations which require that only weed free hay and bedding be allowed on Public Land managed by BLM in order to remove a known problem. This is also required on National Forest Land.

Since weeds, like fire, do not respect property boundaries or jurisdictional responsibilities, a coordinated effort between numerous agencies and other local groups is being organized. Any group or individual interested in participating on the local Weed Management Partnership should contact the Uintah County Weed Supervisor at (435) 781-5380 or the BLM at (435) 781-4400.  

Hopefully, with a fully cooperative effort we will be able to stop the spread of noxious weeds and significantly reduce this environmental and economic problem before it becomes too large to effectively address.