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Chapter 17.26 RCW Control of spartina and purple loosestrife

Chapter 17.26 RCW
Control of spartina and purple loosestrife


The legislature finds that:

(1) Spartina alterniflora, Spartina anglica, Spartina x townsendii, and Spartina patens which are collectively called spartina are not native to the state of Washington nor to the west coast of North America. This noxious weed was inadvertently introduced into the wetlands of the state and is now aggressively invading new areas to the detriment of native ecosystems and aquatic habitat. The spread of spartina threatens to permanently convert and displace native freshwater and saltwater wetlands and intertidal zones, including critical habitat for migratory birds, many fish species, bivalves, invertebrates, marine mammals, and other animals. The continued spread of spartina will permanently reduce the diversity and the quantity of these species and will have a significant negative environmental impact.

Spartina poses a significant hydrological threat. Clumps and meadows of spartina are dense environments that bind sediments and lift the intertidal gradient up out of the intertidal zone through time. This process reduces flows during flood conditions, raises flood levels, and significantly alters the hydrological regime of estuarine areas.

Spartina spreads by rhizomes and seed production. Through lateral growth by rhizomes, spartina establishes a dense monotypic meadow. Through seed production and the spread of seed through the air and by water, spartina is currently being spread to other states and to Canadian provinces.

(2) Purple loosestrife was first documented in the state in 1929 along freshwater shorelands. It is now present throughout the state and is particularly abundant in Grant county and its neighboring counties. The plant appears to be colonizing more rapidly on the eastern side of the state than on the western side. It was first introduced to the Winchester wasteway area in the 1960's and has invaded the area rapidly. Purple loosestrife is displacing native plants and as a result is threatening an extremely important part of this state's wildlife habitat. Lythrum salicaria and L. virgatum are closely related loosestrife species that are morphologically similar and not easily distinguished from each other in the field. Both species have been referred to as purple loosestrife.

(3) Current laws and rules designed to protect the environment and preserve the wetland habitats, fish, and wildlife of the state are not designed to respond to an ecosystem-wide threat of this kind. State and federal agencies, local governments, weed boards, concerned individuals, and property owners attempting to deal with the ecological emergency posed by spartina and purple loosestrife infestations have been frustrated by interagency disagreements, demands for an undue amount of procedural and scientific process and information, dilatory appeals, and the improper application of laws and regulations by agencies that have in fact undermined the legislative purposes of those same laws while ignoring the long-term implications of delay and inaction. There is a compelling need for strong leadership, coordination, and reporting by a single state agency to respond appropriately to this urgent environmental challenge.

Any further delay of control efforts will significantly increase the cost of spartina and purple loosestrife control and reduce the likelihood of long-term success. Control efforts must be coordinated across political and ownership boundaries in order to be effective.

(4) The presence of noxious weeds on public lands constitutes a public nuisance and negatively impacts public and private lands. The legislature finds that control and eradication of noxious weeds on private lands is in the public interest.

[1995 c 255 1.]


Findings Purpose.
This state is facing an environmental disaster that will affect other states as well as other nations. The legislature finds that six years is sufficient time for state agencies to debate solutions to the spartina and purple loosestrife problems that are occurring in state waters. One of the purposes of chapter 255, Laws of 1995 is to focus agency action on control and future eradication of spartina and purple loosestrife. It is the mandate of the legislature that one state agency, the department of agriculture, be responsible for a unified effort to eliminate spartina and control purple loosestrife, with the advice of the state noxious weed control board, and that state agency shall be directly accountable to the legislature on the progress of the spartina eradication and purple loosestrife control program.

[1995 c 255 2.]


Findings Application to appropriations.
This section applies to appropriations made to the department of agriculture specifically for the removal or control of spartina or purple loosestrife or both plants. The legislature finds that: The presence of spartina or purple loosestrife on private lands threatens wildlife habitat and provides a source of renewed infestation for public lands; and effective eradication or control of spartina or purple loosestrife requires concerted efforts on both public and private lands to protect public resources. The department of agriculture may grant funds to other state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit corporations for eradication or control purposes and may use those moneys itself. The department of agriculture may match private funds for eradication or control programs on private property on a fifty-fifty matching basis. The accounting and supervision of the funds at the local level shall be conducted by the department of agriculture.

[1995 c 255 11.]


Restriction on state agencies and local governments.
State agencies and local governments may not use any other local, state, or federal permitting requirement, regulatory authority, or legal mechanism to override the legislative intent and statutory mandates of chapter 255, Laws of 1995.

[1995 c 255 8.]


Spartina removal includes restoration Study.
Spartina removal shall include restoration to return intertidal land and other infested lands to the condition found on adjacent unaffected lands in the same tidal elevation. The department of fish and wildlife, the department of ecology, the department of agriculture, and the department of natural resources shall develop a restoration plan in cooperation with owners of spartina infested lands and shall submit the plan to the appropriate standing committees of the house of representatives and the senate by December 31, 1995.

[1995 c 255 9.]


Lead agency Responsibilities.
(1) The state department of agriculture is the lead agency for the control of spartina and purple loosestrife with the advice of the state noxious weed control board.

(2) Responsibilities of the lead agency include:

(a) Coordination of the control program including memorandums of understanding, contracts, and agreements with local, state, federal, and tribal governmental entities and private parties;

(b) Preparation of a statewide spartina management plan utilizing integrated vegetation management strategies that encompass all of Washington's tidelands. The plan shall be developed in cooperation with local, state, federal, and tribal governments, private landowners, and concerned citizens. The plan shall prioritize areas for control. Nothing in this subsection prohibits the department from taking action to control spartina in a particular area of the state in accordance with a plan previously prepared by the state while preparing the statewide plan;

(c) Directing on the ground control efforts that include, but are not limited to: (i) Control work and contracts; (ii) spartina survey; (iii) collection and maintenance of spartina location data; (iv) purchasing equipment, goods, and services; (v) survey of threatened and endangered species; and (vi) site-specific environmental information and documents; and

(d) Evaluating the effectiveness of the control efforts.

The lead agency shall report to the appropriate standing committees of the house of representatives and the senate no later than December 15th of each year through the year 1999 on the progress of the program, the number of acres treated by various methods of control, and on the funds spent.

[1998 c 245 4; 1995 c 255 10.]


High priority for all state agencies Definitions.
(1) Facilitating the control of spartina and purple loosestrife is a high priority for all state agencies.

(2) The department of natural resources is responsible for spartina and purple loosestrife control on state-owned aquatic lands managed by the department of natural resources.

(3) The department of fish and wildlife is responsible for spartina and purple loosestrife control on state-owned aquatic lands managed by the department of fish and wildlife.

(4) The state parks and recreation commission is responsible for spartina and purple loosestrife control on state-owned aquatic lands managed by the state parks and recreation commission.

(5) Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this subsection apply throughout this chapter, RCW 90.48.020, 90.58.030, and *77.55.150:

(a) "Spartina" means Spartina alterniflora, Spartina anglica, Spartina x townsendii, and Spartina patens.

(b) "Purple loosestrife" means Lythrum salicaria and Lythrum virgatum.

(c) "Aquatic noxious weed" means an aquatic weed on the state noxious weed list adopted under RCW 17.10.080.

[2003 c 39 10; 1995 c 255 12.]

Notes: *Reviser's note: RCW 77.55.150 was recodified as RCW 77.55.081 pursuant to 2005 c 146 1001.


Severability 1995 c 255.
If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.

[1995 c 255 14.]


Effective date 1995 c 255.
This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and shall take effect immediately [May 5, 1995].

[1995 c 255 15.]