Department of Agriculture and Food

Weeding Out Invasive Species with SUCCESS

no weeds iconAccording to state law, a noxious weed is defined as any plant that is “especially injurious to public health, crops, livestock, land, or other property.” Utah currently has 54 weeds listed as noxious. Noxious weeds impact more than just Utah farmers and ranchers—noxious weeds impact recreation, wildlife, transportation, private land interests, real estate values, and the health of Utah’s ecosystem. They are highly invasive and out-compete native vegetation, reduce crop yields, degrade infrastructure, reduce land values, and can destroy equipment used for construction and recreation.

Improved Performance by 59%

weed treatment up 92%

By applying the tools and principles of the SUCCESS Framework, the invasive species program team has improved the program’s overall performance by 59% from 2013 to 2015 which reflects a higher effectiveness in noxious weed treatments within the state. Utah’s diverse landscape requires a wide variety of unique regional priorities for weed management and it is essential that both local and statewide priorities are considered. The plan developed based on the tools and principles of the SUCCESS Framework allows for the inclusion of local prioritization. Using the model to rank projects has led to an increase in weed populations treated from 359 in 2013 to 688 in 2015—a 92% increase.

Focusing Local Efforts on Statewide Priorities

utahOnly-scattered-weedsThe SUCCESS Framework has improved efforts to control weeds by focusing local efforts on statewide weed priorities which are generally new invaders. The invasive species program team’s SUCCESS Framework plan was developed by a multi-agency team, including Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and three county weed supervisors. The plan prioritized project funding based on weed importance and the number of populations treated. Higher rates of success have been established by treating scattered populations of a high-priority weed that recently invaded the state. This approach has allowed the team to treat an increased number of smaller noxious weed populations that are controllable, thereby providing a greater return on investment of the program’s limited resources. The plan
design allows the Department of Agriculture and Food to adjust ranking scores as weeds and weed populations are successfully eradicated and program priorities change.

New Harmony Hoary Cress Project

photo of hoary-cress weedThe New Harmony hoary cress (whitetop) is an example of one of many projects where the invasive species program has used the SUCCESS Framework to identify priority weed populations to eradicate. Although hoary cress is common in the northern half of the state, it is just beginning to encroach Utah’s Dixie. Hoary cress is a highly invasive and competitive plant species that reproduces through both seeds and roots, making it difficult to control. These factors produce a high ranking within the project plan model.

Weeds Decreased by 85%

The New Harmony hoary cress project covers 222 acres of agricultural land adjacent to Zion National Park. The threat of the weed invading the park increases its priority. Beginning in 2013, the 222 acres were sprayed and the fields were planted on an annual basis with an agricultural grass to compete with any surviving weeds. From 2014 to 2015, the weeds decreased by 85% and we anticipate the project will continue to reduce hoary cress throughout W ashington County.

zion park weed comparison photos-2014 to 2015

UDAF team photoInvasive Species SUCCESS Team: Rob Hougaard (UDAF), Kevin Bailey (Juab County Weed Department), Rich Riding (UDAF), Bracken Davis (UDAF), Aaron Eagar (Utah County Weed Department), Jerry Caldwell (Tooele County Weed Department)