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Local noxious weed control projects receive state grants

The money, awarded to cities, counties, townships, conservation districts and tribal nations, will be used to purchase equipment and supplies, conduct mapping and outreach activities, and hire private applicators to manage noxious weeds.

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Palmer amaranth, a noxious weed, infests a field. The plant is required to be eradicated when found in Minnesota. Photo / Minnesota Department of Agriculture

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture awarded $537,000 to combat noxious weeds across Minnesota.

Thirty-five projects are being funded through the 2020 noxious weed and invasive plant grant, including four local projects.

The money, awarded to cities, counties, townships, conservation districts and tribal nations, will be used to purchase equipment and supplies, conduct mapping and outreach activities, and hire private applicators to manage noxious weeds.

Noxious weeds are plants that have the potential or are known to be harmful to human or animal health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock, or other property. There are currently 48 plants on Minnesota’s Noxious Weed List , available at https://bit.ly/2CN3mU3 .

Grants were funded at two levels for fiscal year 2020. Twenty-three Level 1 projects were awarded up to $10,000 each to be spent in one year to support local activity. Twelve Level 2 projects were awarded between $10,000 and $50,000 each to be spent over two years to promote collaboration with entities within and outside their jurisdictions, a news release stated.

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Local Level 1 projects receiving $10,000 in grant funds include an invasive plant control project forwarded by the Aitkin County Land Department and a project in Todd County seeking to eradicate Palmer amaranth in township rights of way and control wild parsnip in township and county rights of way.

Palmer amaranth — also known as Palmer pigweed or careless weed — is native to the southwestern U.S. Adapted to its native arid environment, the weed grows quickly and produces abundant seeds when water is available. By state law, the plant must be destroyed when discovered.

Wild parsnip, native to Europe and Asia, was brought to North America by European settlers and grown as a root vegetable. The perennial grows 4-6 feet tall and is highly invasive, developing into large monocultures that replace native animal and plant habitat. It can negatively impact livestock if ingested, and the plant sap contains toxic chemicals activated by sunlight that can cause serious burns and blisters to human skin after contact. State law requires efforts be made to prevent seed maturation and dispersal of plants into new areas.

Receiving Level 2 grants were the Wadena and Aitkin soil and water conservation districts. In Wadena County, $10,000 will support a noxious weed mapping and inventory project, while $12,000 will go toward gravel pit noxious weed certification in Aitkin County.

The agriculture department anticipates another $100,000 will be available through the noxious and invasive plant grant for the next fiscal year. The request for proposals will be released by September 2020 and grants will be awarded in 2021.

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