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Section Two: Current Trends
Why are We Falling Behind?
In order to achieve effective weed management, strategies must build
on previous success, while recognizing and correcting failures and
shortcomings. Failure to identify the full scope and significance of the
current situation will lead to reduced chances for success in the future.
The deficiencies in Oregon’s current noxious weed management are
described below.
 
During the last decade, funding for weed control programs has
decreased while the number of new noxious weeds have increased
and existing infestations have spread at alarming rates. Less weed
control at state and local levels is being done, because weed programs
have experienced severe cuts in overall services during the last 10
years. Consequently, public concerns about noxious weeds have
become a major issue. This has caused increased demands on the
limited resources of public agencies and private landowners and has
affected their ability to respond to the present crisis.

Despite the increased demands and cuts in some services, a number of
agencies and concerned parties are making valiant efforts to control
noxious weeds. Cooperative partnerships have been developed and
fostered among public and private sectors. Priorities among
cooperators have been set and important control projects have been
implemented. However, more must be done to keep up with the
increasing impacts of noxious weeds.

A reverse in these trends began with the 1999 Legislature and a
reinvestment of $1.1 million of lottery funds directed toward noxious
weed control grants through the Oregon State Weed Board (OSWB)
and $400,000 for equipment upgrades and staff support in the ODA
Weed Control Program.

Increasing Demands

The number of weeds listed by OSWB has increased by 40 percent
over the last 10 years, from 60 species in 1990 to 99 species in 2000.
In the past year alone, four new “A” listed, high priority noxious
weeds (small broomrape, orange and yellow hawkweeds, and kudzu)
were found in Oregon, requiring immediate attention. Interest in
noxious weeds continues to increase. Land managers, private citizens,
and conservation groups continue to become more informed and
concerned demanding additional attention, assistance, and technical
support from existing resources, programs, and staff.
 
Many noxious weed infestations continue to expand unchecked.
During the last 12 years, spotted knapweed infestations increased 42
fold from nine townships to 379; yellow starthistle increased 11 fold
from 38 to 428 townships, and rush skeletonweed almost 10 fold from
14 to 136 townships. These three noxious weeds alone now infest
more than 5.4 million gross acres. (One township is equal to 36
square miles.)

ODA Program

Many of ODA’s priorities are not being addressed as a result of a 33
percent decline in General Funds over the past decade. The noxious
weed control program has more demands than resources available to
address essential functions. ODA is becoming increasingly dependent
on outside funding sources from federal agencies, grants, and other
sources to maintain the professional staff. Because of obligations to
the funding sources, the ODA staff is less flexible to address
statewide priorities. Priorities include, finding and controlling new
invaders, implementing biological control, providing prevention and
educational programs, and assisting county programs and private
landowners. At the same time, the ODA program continues to take on
more responsibilities and additional duties with existing resources.

The continuing influx of new invasive weeds has caused ODA to
respond to unplanned emergency situations (i.e., small broomrape,
kudzu, hawkweeds, and smooth cordgrass). The frequency of new
introductions and the occurrence of new weed induced problems have
increased over the last decade. Resources demanded by new projects
and emergencies are diverted from other important existing control
projects.

Oregon State Weed Board

General Funds for the Oregon State Weed Board were cut over the
last decade, limiting its ability to provide funds for county assistance,
research, and education. The board received $1.1 million in lottery
funds for the 1999-2001 biennium. These funds have been crucial for
implementation of vital on-the-ground control projects. However,
these funds have limitations that prevent their use to support equally
important functions such as of county assistance, education, research,
and grant administration.

County Programs

Many county programs are under funded or nonexistent. Twenty-one
out of 36 Oregon counties do not have active weed control programs.
Overall, county programs have declined by 70 percent during the past
decade. The leading causes are linked to cuts in cost-share funds
previously provided by the Oregon State Weed Board and reduced
support from county general funds, due to property tax rate limitations
and other revenue constraints.

In 1988, a survey of county programs rated the majority as good to
excellent. A 1999 survey rated the majority of programs as fair to
poor. Not only is Oregon losing county programs, but also the level of
service of some of the remaining programs has been reduced. Despite
the general decline, several county programs are doing an excellent
job of noxious weed control.

State Agencies

State agencies (Division of State Lands, Department of Fish and
Wildlife
, Department of Transportation, Parks and Recreation
Department
, and Department of Forestry) recognize the need for
noxious weed control. However, they lack adequate personnel and
budgets to address them fully. Noxious weed management has been
factored into budgets and duties on a limited basis. Some priorities
have been addressed, but many opportunities are being missed.
Awareness of the need for noxious weed management is high among
some individuals within state natural resource and land management
agencies. But, only two out of five of these agencies have policy to
address the management of noxious weeds. Two have management
plans developed and most have only limited resources allocated for
the management of noxious weeds.

These natural resource and land management agencies play a vital
role in Oregon’s diverse land use and resource management. They are
responsible for forest protection, right-of-way maintenance, water
quality preservation, fish and wildlife habitat protection, and
recreation area and park maintenance. With these responsibilities,
there is a need to increase awareness throughout the agencies and
incorporate noxious weed management into resource and land
management activities. 
Federal Agencies

Federal agencies (for example, US Forest Service and Bureau of Land
Management
) play a significant role in noxious weed management.
Most have developed policies, plans, and management strategies, but
struggle with insufficient resources to accomplish their objectives.
Federal agencies manage a large portion of Oregon land. This land
does not fall under the authority of state and local weed regulations.
In some cases, implementation of weed control projects has presented
unique challenges. Federal regulations and policies can create delays,
increase costs, and sometimes limit the choice of effective treatment
options. Some federal agencies have built important partnerships and
programs that have resulted in significant implementation of weed
control projects from both a local and statewide perspective.
However, some private landowners adjacent to infested federal lands
have voiced concerns in areas where control projects have not been
implemented.

Overall during the last 10 years, due in part to the 1990 amendment of
the Federal Noxious Weed Act, federal agencies have put more
emphasis on noxious weed management. This has included the
formation of interagency working groups such as the Western Weed
Coordinating Committee
(WWCC) and the Federal Interagency
Committee for Management of Noxious Exotic Weeds
(FICMNEW),
development of strategic documents, and implementation of more
aggressive programs for the management of noxious weeds.

Challenges

ODA, counties, and state and federal agencies face many challenges
in conducting noxious weed management programs. In one way or
another, they are all confronted with insufficient resources, under
developed policies or management plans, and unplanned emergencies.
The lack of adequate resources presents the greatest challenge and
causes insufficient attention to many weed issues.