The Economics of the War on Weeds on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weeds cost Montana economically by reducing farm and ranch productivity, degrading water quality, depressing wildlife numbers, and threatening outdoor recreation. Fighting the war on weeds on the Rocky Mountain Front (RMF) is also costly, but how costly, and are we spending enough to effectively manage the problem? To answer these questions, The Wilderness Society conducted a phone survey of RMF land managers. They responded to questions about expenditures, budget needs, and other priorities within a defined geographic area.  Public agencies and private organizations spent about $1.1 million on RMF weed management in FY 2009. This figure does not include money or time spent by private landowners fighting noxious weeds on private property. At least 35 percent of this amount came from county funds obtained by taxation of property owners. Still, this is not enough to fulfill their agencies’ missions. To do so, managers estimate they would need to nearly double their expenditures to $1.9 million. The highest needs are tools for landscape mapping, tracking of weed infestations, and better understanding of effective treatments. In addition, land managers wish to promote public awareness of the threat of weeds, improve inter-agency cooperation, and develop better means of detecting weed outbreaks early.

Author: Joe Kerkvliet