“I grow barley for a living but weeds hurt my bottom line. The Heritage Act will place a high priority on fighting and preventing their spread and help me protect my livelihood.”
- Joe Perry, farmer in Brady
Experts around the state are in lock-step that noxious weeds are a serious threat to Montana's way of life. The Montana Weed Control Association calls noxious weeds the greatest threat to our environment because weeds reduce the productivity of farms and ranches, degrade water quality, impoverish native wildlife habitat, and can reduce tourism-derived revenues.
But unlike some other parts of the state, the Rocky Mountain Front is well positioned to succeed in the battle against noxious weeds. But that battle won't be won without a larger push. A lack of resources and lack of an integrated plan to respond are the major the hurdles in the fight. That's why the Heritage Act will place a high priority on the prevention, eradication, and control of noxious weeds on the Rocky Mountain Front by requiring the federal land agencies to prioritize their efforts. Meanwhile additional avenues are being sought to give counties more resources and tools to combat the problem.
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We cannot wait until elk and deer have no food source, fish have no clear water and our native plants have nowhere to grow. Adequate resources currently don’t exist to get in front of this problem. But if we can find the time and energy now, the Front, and everything we love about it, can still be saved.
One of the greatest threats to the ecological and economic integrity of the public and private lands of the Rocky Mountain Front is the spread of noxious weeds. Noxious weeds like leafy spurge and spotted knapweed can render many range sites useless for cattle production by displacing valuable forage, reduce the value of private land, push native wildlife away, and end up costing Montanans millions in the long term through loss of tourism revenues.
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According to the Montana Weed Management Plan, “inadequate financial and manpower resources are available to effectively manage noxious weeds in Montana. Increased funding to private land managers, county weed districts, federal, and state agencies, and improving efficiency and organization of grass-roots efforts are needed to move Montana forward in effective weed management.”
Noxious weeds are a common enemy for ranchers, sportsmen, private landowners and public land managers. The Heritage Act would require the Forest Service and the BLM to prioritize and coordinate noxious weed management on the public lands. The total acreage involved is approximately 405,272 acres (this includes all of the CMA, Wilderness, and the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest).
The Forest Service and the BLM need be fully engaged and committed to noxious weed control on the federal public lands. By requiring that the Forest Service prepare a comprehensive weed management strategy we will identify the true scope of noxious weeds and create opportunities to find additional resources necessary to eradicate noxious weeds within the Management Area and prevent their spread.
The Coalition is working on a separate track with the four Front counties of Glacier, Pondera, Teton, and Lewis and Clark to try and secure a federal appropriation for the counties to fight noxious weeds on the private lands. The amount requested is $327,020.00 for two field seasons of noxious weed work in the counties along the Front. The idea is to put more resources into fighting the small patches of weeds on private lands before they spread. This has proven a cost effective strategy to prevent weeds from destroying valuable wildlife habitat and working lands. We won’t know about the appropriation request until the late fall.