Noxious Weed Laws

What are noxious weeds?

Noxious weeds are non-native plants introduced to Washington through human actions.  Because of their aggressive growth and lack of natural enemies in the state, these species can be highly destructive, competitive or difficult to control.  These exotic species can reduce crop yields, destroy native plant and animal habitat, damage recreational opportunities, clog waterways, lower land values and poison humans and livestock.


What is the state's noxious weed law?

 Washington State has been a leader in recognizing the impact invasive species have on our environment as well as our pocket books.  Washington passed it's first weed law in 1881 to combat Canada thistle, a newly invading species. In the late 1960s, the state legislature established the state’s Noxious Weed Control Board, and authorized counties to establish County Weed Boards.   Washington’s noxious weed law (RCW 17.10) requires public and private landowners – including  city, county, state and federal land agencies – to control and prevent the spread of designated noxious weeds on their property.  “Control” is defined in WAC 16-750 as the prevention of all seed production and prevent dispersal of all propagative parts.  

Federally owned lands are also subject to the Plant Protection Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106-224 Title IV Sec. 411-442), amended by the Noxious  Weed Control and Eradication Act of 2004, and Executive Order 13112 signed by then President Bill Clinton.  Since many people are unfamiliar with noxious weeds, the county weed program is available to provide information on identification and control option(s).  Landowners can choose the control option(s) they feel is most appropriate for their noxious weed site.

Why is there a law to control noxious weeds?

Noxious weeds affect everyone.  Weeds do not obey property lines or jurisdictional boundaries.  It takes a coordinated effort to prevent new noxious weeds from establishing and to control and eradicate the weeds already here.  The noxious weed law provides a tool to quickly and effectively stop the spread of the new and most damaging weeds.  Early Detection and Rapid Response is the ultimate goal.

The laws

Washington state laws

RCW 17.10, (Revised Code of Washington) is the state’s basic weed law.

The Washington Administrative Code (WAC) contains the rules and regulations needed to carry out the state law.

WAC Chapter 16-750 (Washington Administrative Code) includes the State Noxious Weed List, definitions and descriptions of region boundaries for Class B weeds, and the schedule of monetary penalties.

WAC Chapter 16-752 describes the quarantine list maintained by the State Department of Agriculture. (The state law that calls for the creation and maintenance of the quarantine list is RCW 17.24.)

Federal laws

Plant Protection Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106-224 Title IV Sec. 411-442)Consolidates and modernizes all major statutes pertaining to plant protection and quarantine (Federal Noxious Weed Act, Plant Quarantine Act). Permits APHIS to address all types of weed issues.

Executive Order 13112  On Feb 3, 1999, Executive Order 13112 was signed establishing the National Invasive Species Council. The Executive Order requires that a Council of Departments dealing with invasive species be created.

Noxious Weed Control and Eradication Act of 2004 To require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a program to provide assistance to eligible weed management entities to control or eradicate noxious weeds on public and private lands.

Law Enforcement

When weeds aren't controlled

The Franklin County Noxious Weed Control Board staff will make several attempts to contact the landowner to achieve control of a noxious weed infestation. 

If there is inadequate or no control when we return to survey at a specified time, landowners may be issued a “Notice to Control” giving them 10 days (or 48 hours if weeds are in flower or seed) to control the noxious weeds. 

If the noxious weeds are not adequately controlled by the end of the time limit, the program is authorized by Washington’s noxious weed law (RCW 17.10) to cause the control of the noxious weeds at the owner's expense and/or issue a non-traffic Civil Infraction whose penalties are assigned as described in the Schedule of Monetary Penalties (WAC 16-750-020).