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The legislature finds that:
(1) Spartina alterniflora, Spartina anglica, Spartina x townsendii, and Spartina patens which are collectively called spartina are not native to the state of Washington nor to the west coast of North America. This noxious weed was inadvertently introduced into the wetlands of the state and is now aggressively invading new areas to the detriment of native ecosystems and aquatic habitat. The spread of spartina threatens to permanently convert and displace native freshwater and saltwater wetlands and intertidal zones, including critical habitat for migratory birds, many fish species, bivalves, invertebrates, marine mammals, and other animals. The continued spread of spartina will permanently reduce the diversity and the quantity of these species and will have a significant negative environmental impact.
Spartina poses a significant hydrological threat. Clumps and meadows of spartina are dense environments that bind sediments and lift the intertidal gradient up out of the intertidal zone through time. This process reduces flows during flood conditions, raises flood levels, and significantly alters the hydrological regime of estuarine areas.
Spartina spreads by rhizomes and seed production. Through lateral growth by rhizomes, spartina establishes a dense monotypic meadow. Through seed production and the spread of seed through the air and by water, spartina is currently being spread to other states and to Canadian provinces.
(2) Purple loosestrife was first documented in the state in 1929 along freshwater shorelands. It is now present throughout the state and is particularly abundant in Grant county and its neighboring counties. The plant appears to be colonizing more rapidly on the eastern side of the state than on the western side. It was first introduced to the Winchester wasteway area in the 1960's and has invaded the area rapidly. Purple loosestrife is displacing native plants and as a result is threatening an extremely important part of this state's wildlife habitat. Lythrum salicaria and L. virgatum are closely related loosestrife species that are morphologically similar and not easily distinguished from each other in the field. Both species have been referred to as purple loosestrife.
(3) Current laws and rules designed to protect the environment and preserve the wetland habitats, fish, and wildlife of the state are not designed to respond to an ecosystem-wide threat of this kind. State and federal agencies, local governments, weed boards, concerned individuals, and property owners attempting to deal with the ecological emergency posed by spartina and purple loosestrife infestations have been frustrated by interagency disagreements, demands for an undue amount of procedural and scientific process and information, dilatory appeals, and the improper application of laws and regulations by agencies that have in fact undermined the legislative purposes of those same laws while ignoring the long-term implications of delay and inaction. There is a compelling need for strong leadership, coordination, and reporting by a single state agency to respond appropriately to this urgent environmental challenge.
Any further delay of control efforts will significantly increase the cost of spartina and purple loosestrife control and reduce the likelihood of long-term success. Control efforts must be coordinated across political and ownership boundaries in order to be effective.
(4) The presence of noxious weeds on public lands constitutes a public nuisance and negatively impacts public and private lands. The legislature finds that control and eradication of noxious weeds on private lands is in the public interest.
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