The Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board (WSNWCB) will consider rule changes on three topics at a November 2 public hearing based on several proposals that were submitted by county noxious weed control boards. These proposed rule changes would:
- add English holly to the Class C list of noxious weeds,
- change two Class C noxious weeds to Class B noxious weeds, and
- change the areas designated for control of three Class B noxious weeds.
A public hearing on these proposed changes will be held from noon to 2 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 2 at the Yakima County Public Works Maintenance and Operations Complex at 1216 S. 18th St; Yakima, WA 98901. The purpose of the public hearing is to solicit citizen comments and opinions about the proposed rule changes.
Those who wish to comment on the proposed changes may do so orally at the public hearing, or by submitting written testimony, which can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to WSNWCB, PO Box 42560, Olympia, WA 98504. Written testimony must arrive no later than 5 pm Monday, Nov. 1. Testimony that has already been submitted to the State Noxious Weed Control Board this year will be presented at this hearing.
The Board will vote on the proposed rule changes during its regular meeting, which begins at 8:30 on Wednesday, Nov. 3, in the same location as the hearing. This meeting is also open to the public.
Proposal to list English holly
The first proposed rule change would be to add English holly, Ilex aquifolium, as a Class C noxious weed. English holly is grown commercially in the Pacific Northwest for its foliage - especially popular around Christmas time - and is also a popular ornamental commonly planted as trees and hedges. Its berries are eaten by birds, and this is how seeds get spread into forested areas in western Washington. The King County Noxious Weed Control Board submitted the proposal, citing concern that where escaped holly is abundant, it "is capable of forming dense growth and a very high stem density and does exclude native tree and shrub regeneration."
Although a Class C listing would exempt commercially grown holly from any control and would neither prohibit nor regulate the sale of English holly in Washington, the Northwest Holly Growers Association is concerned that listing their crop, which is endemic to the Pacific Northwest, as a Class C would give their crop a bad name and could impact growers' ability to "grow and ship this commodity interstate, and internationally". Because of the unprecedented amount of unsolicited testimony - both supporting and opposing the listing proposal - already received, the State Weed Board voted on September 14 to move this listing proposal forward to hearing to ensure that anyone who wants to weigh in has the opportunity to do so.
Other proposed changes
The second two proposed changes would reclassify two Class C noxious weeds into Class B noxious weeds - yellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) and hairy willow-herb (Epilobium hirsutum). Any county weed board can select Class C species for control, but changing them to a Class B status triggers a statewide approach to preventing their spread. The Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board would essentially "draw the line" to stop these two invasive, noxious weeds from spreading any further by requiring control by landowners in counties where the plants could grow but have not yet established.
The next three proposals would change the areas where control is required of three Class B noxious weeds: hoary alyssum, Eurasian watermilfoil, and houndstongue. The proposed rule changes were requested by county weed boards seeking to improve their ability to control these species and reduce the economic and ecological damage they cause to landowners within their counties.
Open listing process
The Washington State noxious weed list is updated every year, and all Washington residents can submit proposals to add or remove species, change the class of a listed noxious weed, or to change the designated area in which control is required for a Class B noxious weed. Anyone, including citizens, tribes, organizations, government agencies, and county noxious weed control boards, may participate in the listing process by submitting a proposal or by submitting testimony about proposed changes to the noxious weed list. In fact, Washington's open, inclusive listing process is lauded by other states for its encouragement of public participation.
For further information about the listing proposals and how you testify at the hearing, please go to www.nwcb.wa.gov/proposed_changes_2011.htm