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National Scope of Noxious Weeds Now on World Wide Web

By Kathryn Barry Stelljes
August 25, 2000

For the first time, land managers can compare noxious weed lists from the lower 48 United States and six Canadian provinces by logging on to a new section of the University of Montana’s "Invaders" website. Researchers with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service developed the new noxious weed section at the website. To view the noxious weed information, go to:

Researchers at the ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, Mont., compiled the new section containing official federal, state and provincial noxious weed lists. The new section also includes a national ranking of weeds based on the number of states where they are designated noxious.

This tool will help decision makers prioritize control and research efforts at the local and national levels. In addition, they can use the system to predict potential future problems by examining lists from neighboring states or regions. Since it takes 10 to 20 years to discover and introduce new biological control agents, significant money and effort could be saved by managing invasive weeds while infestations are still small.

“Invaders” also provides historical weed distribution data for five states in the Northwest: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. The database has been used to support environmental impact statements, risk assessments and weed management programs.

The ARS researchers’ next step is to look at weed distributions and how alien weeds have spread over time.

For example, spotted knapweed first entered the Pacific Northwest around 1893. The weed began to spread more rapidly in the 1950s, but distribution exploded from 60 counties in 1985 to at least 175 counties today. The researchers hope to identify reasons for such expansions, as well as trends that can help identify which alien plants pose the most risk for future expansion.

ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Kerri Skinner, ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory, Sidney, Mont., phone (406) 433-9484, fax (406) 433-5038,