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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In Pennsylvania

Governor Signs Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Legislation

Monday, November 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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Situational Awareness

On October 30, Governor Wolf signed into law the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Act. The new law revamps the old Noxious Weed Act and broadens the power of the Department of Agriculture to regulate plants in Pennsylvania.

Why This Matters

This new law significantly expands the power of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) to regulate plants. While plants could be banned from possession and sale under the old Noxious Weed Act, the new law also allows plants to be regulated through a licensure process under a Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Board.

The Details

This new law was many years in the making. At PDA’s invitation, PLNA began working with the Department on drafts of the law over six years ago. After many drafts, PLNA’s comments and concerns were incorporated in to the bill finally signed by the governor on October 30.

Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee

A Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee will be established to make decisions about plants to be included as either a controlled plant or a noxious weed. The committee will be comprised of:

  • The secretaries of Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, Transportation;
  • The executive directors of the Fish and Boat commission and Game Commission,
  • The majority and minority chairs of the Senate and House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees; and
  • Three non-governmental persons representing the ornamental, turf and horticultural industry, a general farm organization and an institution of higher education.

Plant Categories

The act establishes two broad categories of regulated and banned plants: controlled plants and noxious weeds.

Controlled Plant - A plant species or subspecies that has been designated by the committee as a controlled plant and is regulated to prevent uncontained growth and to negate undesirable characteristics.

Noxious Weed -

  • A plant part or plant in any stage of development that is determined to be injurious to crops, livestock, agricultural land or other property including forest land and bodies of water; or
  • Any weed listed in as a federal noxious weed.

Further, the act specifies three categories of noxious weeds:

Class A Noxious Weed – A weed listed in the act (relating to noxious weed list) or a weed that has been determined by the committee to be a class a noxious weed and that:

  • Is established in Pennsylvania.
  • Is geographically limited.
  • Is intended to be eradicated.

Class B Noxious Weed - A weed listed in the act or a weed that has been determined by the committee to be a class b noxious weed and that:

  • Is widely established in Pennsylvania.
  • Cannot feasibly be eradicated.

Class C Noxious Weed - A weed listed in in the act or a weed that has been determined by the committee to be a class c noxious weed and that:

  • Is not known to exist in this commonwealth.
  • Poses a potential threat if introduced in Pennsylvania.

Plants Identified in the Act

The act contains a list of plants that have been categorized in the legislation. These plants were recommended by PDA.

Class A Noxious Weeds - Preventing new infestations and eradicating existing infestations of noxious weeds in the class is high priority. The following are Class A noxious weeds:

  • Amaranthus palmeri s. Watson (commonly known as palmer amaranth).
  • Amaranthus rudis (commonly known as common waterhemp).
  • Amaranthus tuberculatus (commonly known as tall waterhemp).
  • Avena sterilis l. (commonly known as animated oat).
  • Cuscuta spp., except for native species (commonly known as dodder).
  • Galega officinalis l. (commonly known as goatsrue).
  • Heracleum mantegazzianum sommier & levier (commonly known as giant hogweed).
  • Hydrilla verticillata (l.f.) royle (commonly known as hydrilla).
  • Oplismenus hirtellus (l.) P. Beauv. Subsp. Undulatifolius (commonly known as wavyleaf basketgrass).
  • Orobanche spp., except for native species (commonly known as broomrape).
  • Pueraria lobate (willd.) Ohwi (commonly known as kudzu).

Class B Noxious Weeds - The department may require control of Class B weeds to contain an injurious infestation, or may provide education or technical consultation. The following are Class B noxious weeds:

  • Carduus nutans l. (commonly known as musk thistle).
  • Cirsium arvense l. (commonly known as canada thistle).
  • Cirsium vulgare l. (commonly known as bull thistle).
  • Exotic Lythrum species, including Lythrum salicaria l. (commonly known as purple loosestrife), the Lythrum salicaria complex and Lythrum virgatum l. (commonly known as European wand loosestrife), their cultivars and any combination thereof.
  • Persicaria perfoliata (l.) H. Grass (formerly known as Polygonum perfoliatum l.) (commonly known as mile-a-minute weed).
  • Rosa multiflora l. (commonly known as multiflora rose).
  • Sorghum bicolor l. Moench (commonly known as shattercane).
  • Sorghum halepense (l.) Pers. (commonly known as johnson grass).
  • Conium maculatum l. (commonly known as poison hemlock).

Class C Noxious Weeds - Class C noxious weeds are any federal noxious weeds listed in 7 CFR 360.200 (relating to designation of noxious weeds) not established in Pennsylvania which are not referenced above.

The act provides for enforcement and control measures for listed plants. For a copy of the complete Act, click here.

What You Can Do

PLNA will be nominating a person to fill the ornamental, turf and horticultural position on the Committee. If you have an interest in serving, please contact Gregg Robertson at 717.238.2033 or by email.


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