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BLM in Idaho drafts invasive-weed rules

Sun., Sept. 26, 2010

BOISE – U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials are proposing new rules in Idaho to battle invasive plants that they say are choking out native species.

The spread of invasive weeds reaches more than 2,300 acres of federal lands each day, a rate that doubles when it comes to public lands in the West, BLM botanist Roger Rosentreter said.

Under the proposed Idaho rules, animal feed and straw used as part of restoration efforts on public lands in Idaho would have to be certified as weed-free. The rules affect grazing permit holders, outfitters and restoration contractors.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture certifies feed as weed-free after farmers have inspections to verify that hayfields are free of the 57 plants identified as noxious weeds under Idaho law.

The proposed rules will be available for public comment until Nov. 22.

Federal land managers in states such as Colorado, Nevada and Montana have already enforced similar rules for the past five years, Rosentreter said.

“It’s confusing to the public when different states have different rules,” Rosentreter told the Times-News in Twin Falls. “I wish that the national office would have done it, but at least this will make things more consistent.”

Concerns from the public prompted federal land managers to draft rules for Idaho, he said. The BLM then sent surveys to grazing permit holders to garner feedback on the proposed rules and made changes based on those comments, such as allowing the transport of hay from one private field to another across public land.

“The focus of the rules is really on long-distance dispersal,” Rosentreter said. “We’re more worried about people carrying seeds in from Texas than from Idaho Falls.”

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