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Section One: Background
National and State Perspective

Noxious weeds are of great significance on a national level. For
example purple loosestrife, originally introduced as an ornamental in
the 1880s, is now a weed in all of the lower 48 states. Purple
loosestrife encroaches on native wetlands, rivers, streams, ponds and
lakes impacting water quality and reducing the populations of 44
native plant species as well as impacting song bird, water fowl,
amphibian and other wildlife habitat (Blossey 1999). Wetlands
infested with purple loosestrife often lose half of the native vegetation
and it is not uncommon to have complete stands of purple loosestrife
(Westbrook 1998).

Annually, $45 million in direct costs are attributed nationally to
purple loosestrife. Controlling purple loosestrife provides an
estimated benefit to cost ratio of 27:1. For every dollar spent on
eradication, prevention, or control, there is an associated $27 benefit
(OTA 1993). Purple loosestrife is one example of many noxious weed
problems on a national level.

Overall, noxious weeds cause an estimated $27 billion in losses to
crop, pasture, and forest production in the U.S. each year (Pimentel,
1999). They alter natural ecosystems by impacting native plant
communities, watershed health, wildlife, and recreational use. An
estimated 5,000 invasive non-native weeds now occur in U.S. natural
areas (Pimentel, 1999). The Departments of Agriculture in 11 western
states estimate there are 70 million acres of private, state, and federal
lands infested by noxious weeds, which are increasing and spreading
at an alarming rate of 12 to 14 percent each year (Asher, 1998). The
spread of noxious weeds has been described as a “biological wildfire
raging out of control.”

National concern about noxious weeds has recently been emphasized
by the President’s Executive Order 13112 on Invasive Species
released February 3, 1999,  and the Plant Protection
Act (PPA)
signed into law on June 20, 2000. Where do noxious weeds
come from and how are they spread?
Oregon has a diverse range of land use and natural resource interests
including agriculture, forestry, conservation, wildlife, recreation, and
urban needs. Noxious weeds are adversely affecting all Oregonians by
impacting all of these interests. Oregon loses over $83 million
annually to just 21 of the 118 state-listed noxious weeds. The true impact of all noxious weeds in Oregon may be as
much as four times this amount. Six of the 21 weeds were assessed to
look at their potential impacts. If not controlled,
these six weeds alone may cause an additional $54 million in future
losses (Radtke 2000—EA Summary(pdf)).

Oregon has a history of being a leader in the field of noxious weed
management and providing successful weed control programs. For
example, the 1975 Legislature amended Oregon weed law (ORS 452)
to include tansy ragwort, a widespread poisonous weed responsible
for killing livestock and crowding out desirable forage and native
plants. Prior to successful control of tansy ragwort, there was an
estimated economic loss of $5 million per year.
Due to a successful biological control program in western Oregon,
and an ongoing containment program in central and eastern Oregon,
impacts have been reduced to low levels. A 1993 study estimated the
economic benefit of controlling tansy ragwort to be 13:1; for every
control dollar spent, $13 of benefit is derived. (Radtke 1993).

Achievements, such as the control of tansy ragwort, are significant in
maintaining Oregon’s economic viability. As natural resource
stewards, Oregonians must seek opportunities to prevent the
introduction and spread of new problem weeds and reduce the
impacts of established noxious weed populations.

The Oregon Progress Board is responsible for maintaining a 20-year
strategic plan for the state, Oregon Shines, and developing Oregon
. The benchmarks provide 90 indicators of economic,
social and environmental health and are used to track Oregon’s
success in achieving Oregon Shines goals. Existing and pending
Oregon Benchmarks (OB) affected by noxious weeds include: OB 77,
percentage of Oregon wetland acreage maintained or increased; OB
88, percentage of native plant species that are healthy; OB 89, the
number of nuisance invasive plant or animal species established in
Oregon. Proposed and developmental benchmarks for 2001-2003
biennium include: OB 2024, the amount of intact or functional
riparian vegetation found along stream and rivers; OB 2026, the
condition of intertidal and near shore marine areas; OB 2027, the
portion of agriculture or rangeland managed with sustainable

The Oregon Progress Board also publishes a State of the Environment
. In this report, the number of nuisance invasive species is
listed as one of 18 selected indicators of ecosystem health.


Current Management Roles and Authorities
There is a need for effective and efficient statewide noxious weed
management. State, county, and federal governments are responsible
for implementing and maintaining control programs. Currently, these
three entities provide different levels of management, while working
towards a common objective. Private land managers also play an
essential role in the effective management of noxious weeds. About
half of Oregon’s 61 million acres are under public management and
the balance is private. Noxious weeds do not respect ownership or
political boundaries. Thus, there is a need for all resource interests to
work toward common solutions for noxious weed management.

ODA Program

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) Noxious Weed Control
Program provides statewide leadership and coordination. The general
fund budget for the Noxious Weed Control Program is $786,000 for
the 1999-2001 biennium. This budget supports noxious weed control
projects, detection and control of new invasive noxious weeds,
implementation of biological control, technology transfer, education,
inventory, mapping, database management, and assistance to land

County Programs

Organization at the local level is an important role for Oregon’s weed
control efforts. County programs are the primary source of this
support. In addition to providing local assistance and implementing
control projects, county programs enforce the state weed laws.
Currently however, only 15 of Oregon’s 36 counties have active weed
control programs. Overall spending for noxious weed management by
county programs during 2000 is estimated at $2.6 million.

State and Federal Agencies

State and federal agencies manage roughly half of Oregon lands. As
major land stewards, these agencies exercise a significant role in the
implementation of effective weed management statewide. Many state
and federal agencies have developed cooperative partnerships with
ODA and county weed control programs to implement a variety of
control activities. Federal land management agencies currently have
an estimated annual budget of $2.25 million for noxious weed control
activities in Oregon. State agencies (excluding ODA) estimate current
spending for noxious weed control at $250,000 per year.

Private Land Managers

Individuals also play a significant role in noxious weed management.
Landowners, organizations, and citizens participate in weed control
activities, weed boards, and assist by reporting new infestations. Most
importantly, they can promote and use sustainable practices, and
advocate the preservation of the natural environment.

Roles and Authorities

A number of state and federal agencies, counties, and universities are
actively involved in noxious weed control. The major cooperators in
noxious weed management are listed along with a brief description of
their roles can be found in the printed version of this report.