Before you take horses and pack animals to the backcountry, make sure you have the right hay. The Forest Service, BLM, and other government agencies are requiring weed free hay and forage on their lands in order to protect natural areas, habitats, and natural resources by preventing the spread of invasive species. Read about the benefits of using weed free forage in this article in The Trail Rider.
To meet this need, the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) has set the national minimum standard for weed free forage and hay. Washington uses the NAISMA standard plus the addition of the complete State Noxious Weed List for the Washington Wilderness Hay & Mulch Management (WWHAM) Program.
Hay growers can contact their local certifying agency to find out about participating in the WWHAM program. For some counties, the inspections are done by WSDA inspectors and for others by certified County Noxious Weed Board staff. In King County, hay growers can contact Mary Fee at the King County Noxious Weed Control Program for more information about getting certified. For other counties in Washington, see the WWHAM Inspection Responsibility Map.
Field inspections take place no more than 10 days before harvest. Storage areas, field border, fence rows, and right-of-ways are also inspected. Once inspections are completed, proper tags or twine are issued for correctly identifying weed free forage. Minimum standards require forage to be free of noxious weeds, inspected in the original field by a designated authority, and correctly marked.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Mary Fee for providing the information for this post. Material for this post was obtained in part from the website http://agr.wa.gov/plantsinsects/wwham/wwham.aspx accessed on 5/23/2016.