Monday, June 8, 2015

A weed by any other name?

Despite the best efforts of politicians of many stripes, Minnesota's public agencies often accomplish an unreasonable amount of good. I've recently encountered two examples of that and I want to share them today.

The most recent instance is brought to us by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. They have recently started to publicize the fact that they're drafting an Environmental Justice Framework and ask that we provide feedback.
"Please provide your comments on this draft to by July 15, 2015 to Ned Brooks, MPCA’s Environmental Justice Coordinator at or 651-757-2557. You may also attend a community meeting, to be scheduled for mid-June 2015 to learn more about this document and provide your comments. Please check MPCA’s web site at for more information."

We all know that a sustainable society is dependent on the three "Es" of environment, economy, and social equity in society. Take a second, click the preceding link, get a copy of the document, read it and see what you can offer as constructive improvements. Thanks for helping to make Minnesota more sustainable.

two "invasives:" Leucanthemum vulgare (Ox-eye Daisy) [white]
Lotus corniculatus (Birds-foot Trefoil) [yellow]
Photo by J. Harrington

Last week we fussed and fumed about Minnesota's approach to invasive species, particularly plants. The Minnesota Department of Transportation [MnDoT] has an online booklet that brings a bundle of organization to the issue. Unfortunately, organization does not trump multi-agency illogic. For example, the initial link in the excerpt below goes to a no longer extant Minnesota Department of Agriculture page that offers to redirect the reader/seeker to the Minnesota Invasive Species Advisory Council. That's more than a little short on substantive content compared to the following definitions:
Definitions of the noxious weed categories from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture web page: 
State Prohibited Noxious Weeds
Prohibited noxious weeds are annual, biennial, or perennial plants that the commissioner designates as having the potential or are known to be detrimental to human or animal health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock or other property. There are two regulatory listings for prohibited noxious weeds in Minnesota:

1. Eradicate List: Prohibited noxious weeds that are listed to be eradicated are plants that are not currently known to be present in Minnesota or are not widely established. These species must be eradicated, meaning all of the above and below ground parts of the plant must be destroyed, as required by Minnesota Statutes, Section 18.78. Additionally, no transportation, propagation, or sale of these plants is allowed. Measures must also be taken to prevent and exclude these species from being introduced into Minnesota.

2. Controlled List: Prohibited noxious weeds listed to be controlled are plants established throughout Minnesota or regions of the state. Species on this list must be con- trolled, meaning efforts must be made to prevent the spread, maturation and dispersal of any propagating parts, thereby reducing established populations and preventing reproduction and spread as required by Minnesota Statutes, Section 18.78. Additionally, transportation, propagation, or sale of these plants is prohibited.

Restricted Noxious Weeds
Restricted noxious weeds are plants that are widely distributed in Minnesota and are detrimental to human or animal health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock or other property, but whose only feasible means of control is to prevent their spread by prohibiting the importation, sale, and transportation of their propagating parts in the state except as allowed by Minnesota Statutes, Section 18.82. Plants designated as Restricted Noxious Weeds may be reclassified if effective means of control are developed.

Specially Regulated Plants
Specially regulated plants are plants that may be native species or have demonstrated economic value, but also have the potential to cause harm in non-controlled environ- ments. Plants designated as specially regulated have been determined to pose ecological, economical, or human or animal health concerns. Plant specific management plans and or rules that define the use and management requirements for these plants will be developed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for each plant designated as specially regulated. Measures must also be taken to minimize the potential for harm caused by these plants.

Japanese barberry: Japanese barberry cultivars that average greater than 600 seeds per plant will begin a three-year phase-out period in Minnesota starting January 1, 2015. At the end of the phase-out period (December 31, 2017), the listed species and cultivars will become Restricted Noxious Weeds in Minnesota and will be illegal to sell and propagate. Specific Japanese barberry cultivars are listed on page 29 of this document.

Knotweeds, giant and Japanese: Any person, corporation, business or other retail entity distributing Japanese and/or giant knotweeds for sale within the state, must have information directly affixed to the plant or container packaging that it is being sold with, indicating that it is unadvisable to plant this species within 100 feet of a water body or its designated flood plain as defined by Minnesota Statute 103F.111, Subdivision 4.

Poison ivy: Must be eradicated or controlled for public safety along rights-of-ways, trails, public accesses, business properties open to the public or on parts of lands where public access for business or commerce is granted. Must also be eradicated or controlled along property borders when requested by adjoining landowners.
I couldn't find Dame's Rocket on any of these lists. It is on the Forest Invasive Plants Resource Center list. I'm not sure if it's migrated from there to any official Minnesota listing or not. The scattering of information and responsibilities among more than a handful of public entities, and the lack of direct linkage between information and action, a combination which I consider essential for proper public engagement, makes me less than hopeful for the success of eradication and control efforts.


By A. R. Ammons 
I found a
that had a

mirror in it
and that

looked in at
a mirror

me that
had a
weed in it

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Please be kind to each other while you can.