Keeping the Back Country Weed Free

If you are out riding on the trails this summer, you can help protect our beautiful backcountry from noxious weed invasions by using weed free materials. Noxious weeds negatively impact Washington’s natural areas by out-competing native vegetation, increasing soil erosion, and decreasing native wildlife and fish habitat. The Forest Service, BLM, and other public agencies are requiring weed seed free hay and forage on their lands in order to prevent the spread of invasive species into the backcountry.

In addition to packing certified forage, make sure to feed ride and pack animals weed seed free certified hay at least three days prior to going into the backcountry to ensure any previously consumed weed seeds pass through animals while transitioning to the weed free hay.

Although the North American Invasive Species Management Association (NAISMA) established a national minimum standard for weed free forage and hay, the certification process varies by state. Washington uses the NAISMA standard list of species plus the addition of the complete State Noxious Weed List for the Washington Wilderness Hay & Mulch Management (WWHAM) Program.

Noxious weed kochia growing out of a compost bin
Weed introductions can be preventing by checking hay and mulch for noxious weeds before using. Photo from WSNWCB.

Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) provides a list of WWHAM certified growers and a list of WWHAM certified dealers in Washington. For more information about how to find weed free hay and forage in Washington or how to get certified as WWHAM, see the WSDA website.

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.

Washington Wilderness Hay and Mulch Inspection Map
Washington hay growers can get certified by either WSDA inspectors or their local county noxious weed board. Contact WSDA for more information.

Prevention is key in noxious weed control. Not only utilizing weed free hay, but also cleaning gear, vehicles, and animals plays an important role in noxious weed prevention. Arrive with clean gear, and before leaving remove any mud and debris. Let’s keep Washington’s backcountry weed free and beautiful!

trail through mountain meadow and sulpine forest
Help keep the backcountry beautiful by preventing weed invasions!

Some of the information for this post was obtained from retrieved on 7/25/2017. The lovely photos of trail horses are courtesy of Hannah Palmer. This post was written by Mary Fee, revised by Sasha Shaw.