BAKER CITY - As part of a larger effort to reduce invasive species on national forest lands, the U.S. Forest Service is requiring the use of weed-free feed within all Pacific Northwest Congressionally designated wilderness areas and trailheads leading into wilderness areas. This requirement will be expanded in 2009 to require weed-free feed on all national forest lands.

Weed-free feed is defined as hay or crop products that have been certified according to standards used by the North American Weed Management Association and member states. Crop products include hay, hay cubes, straw, grain, and mulch products.

For now, the new requirement applies to those Wildernesses in the Pacific Northwest which do not already require weed-free feed. The use of weed-free feed has been required in the Eagle Cap Wilderness for many years and encouraged in the Hells Canyon Wilderness (HCW). The new requirement includes the HCW and the North Fork John Day and Monument Rock Wilderness.areas on the west side of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

The new requirement states that all hay, cubed hay, straw, mulch, and other such products used or stored on national forest lands be state certified as weed free. Crop products often contain seeds of non-native weeds that germinate on public lands and damage their health and beauty.

Non-native weeds such as yellow starthistle, spotted knapweed, meadowhawkweed, and others are alien to the United States and have no natural enemies to check their spread. The new requirement is currently specific to Wilderness because these areas often are free of invasive plants and introduction can be checked through efforts such as weed-free feed.

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