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Idahoans can prevent noxious weeds spread

Driving home from a weekend in the outdoors, an Idaho family stops to pick what they think are pretty white wildflowers growing near the roadside. On the way home, the white flowers, which are actually the noxious weed Perennial Pepperweed, wilt and 100 miles down the road end up being tossed into a ditch.

That innocent act has just introduced this highly invasive noxious weed into a new area, accelerating its spread.

Noxious weeds pose a serious threat to Idaho’s economy, ecology and agriculture, causing the state some $300 million annually in damage. Noxious weeds displace native vegetation and rob animals of their food supply.

They proliferate from seeds carried by the wind, weather, animals and unintentionally by Idaho’s citizens and visitors. An alarming number of noxious weeds will be among the first plants to flower this spring, adding a new color to the rainbow of native wildflowers that adorn the countryside.

The best way to control noxious weeds is to stop them from spreading. While it is not always possible to keep weed seeds from drifting down rivers, floating in the wind or hitching rides on wildlife, it is possible to prevent their unintended spread by humans.

Experts say there are five simple suggestions on how individuals can help stop the spread of noxious weeds to new areas:

  • Avoid traveling through weed-infested areas with ATVs and other off-road vehicles.

  • Camp only in weed-free areas.

  • Do not pick and transport flowers you cannot identify – you may be inadvertently spread the seeds of an attractive noxious weed.

  • Check boats and trailers carefully after they are pulled from the water for signs of aquatic weeds such as Eurasian watermilfoil.

  • Clean your hiking and camping gear before leaving the area. This reduces spreading weed seed to other areas.

To learn more about noxious weeds, log on to the Idaho Weed Awareness web site at or call the Idaho Weed Awareness hotline at 1-866-IDWEEDS.

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