What are Weed Management Areas (WMAs)?
WMAs are local stakeholder groups working on weed projects. Typically, they are organized by county, through county Agricultural Commissioners’ offices. All interested land management entities, public and private, are invited to participate. Official WMA partners sign a Memorandum of Understanding indicating their commitment to working on invasive plant problems to the extent resources allow. Each WMA develops a strategic plan that identifies their top priorities for local management. Together these partners plan and implement projects on-the-ground, and collaborate on mapping and public education. In the year 2000, there were fewer than 20 groups statewide—today there are 48 covering all counties.
California’s WMAs have proven to be an efficient and effective instrument for controlling the spread and impact of invasive weeds throughout the state. The program has grown to include (from CDFA program report) 48 WMAs covering all 58 counties. Because they are local efforts that involve all land management stakeholders, their work has strong local support.
The program’s accomplishments to date include (from CDFA program report):
- Permanent eradication of 2,015 populations of high priority weed infestations;
- Effective treatment of more than 128,421 acres of high priority weed infestations;
- Distribution of $5.6 million to 48 WMAs covering 58 counties (AB1168 & SB1740);
- Leveraging a 3-to-1 match from outside grant funding and in-kind donations and services;
- Development of new local partnerships between public agencies, private landowners, agriculturalists and conservationists, with outreach programs reaching 88,803 people; and
- Attendance by 6,781 people at regular weed management meetings throughout the state.
State Legislative Background
California’s Weed Management Area (WMA) program was created by AB 1168 (Frusetta) in 1999. The bill created the Noxious Weed Management Account, adding Article 1.7 (commencing with Section 7270) to Chapter 1 of Part 4 of Division 4 of the Food and Agricultural Code. In 2000, SB 1740 (Leslie) further defined the program and added $5 million to the account, amending Sections 7270, 7271, 7272, and 7273 of, and adding Sections 7270.5 and 7272.5 to, the Food and Agricultural Code. These funds sunset in June 2004, and the program has lacked funding since then. In 2006, AB 2479 (Villines) was introduced to renew funding to the program.
How the Program Works
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) administers contracts with local WMAs, An advisory panel reviews proposals from WMAs and makes awards according to guidelines. To receive funding, each WMA must have an MOU between all stakeholder groups in their area, and a strategic plan defining their goals and objectives. For more information, see the CDFA’s Weed Management Area page.
Partnership is the foundation of work conducted by WMAs. Many diverse entities participate in WMAs, including:
- Private partners-utilities, land trusts, forest industry, pest control operators, ranchers, farmers, nurseries;
- County agencies-Agricultural Commissioners, Resource Conservation Districts, Parks, Public Works, Farm Bureau, Master Gardeners, school districts, municipalities;
- State agencies-CalTrans, Fish and Game, Food and Agriculture, Forestry, Parks and Recreation, University of California Cooperative Extension, Regional Water Quality Control Boards, Department of Water Resources;
- Federal agencies-US Forest Service, National Resource Conservation Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers;
- Nonprofit organizations-Audubon Society, Sierra Club, California Native Plant Society, Cal-IPC.
The Noxious Weed Control and Eradication Act of 2004, P.L. 108-412, is awaiting appropriations in Washington, D.C. The act would provide $15 million I matching funds nationally to WMAs (original language specified $100 million).California, with its well-developed network of WMAs, could be well-positioned to compete for these federal funds if we maintain state funding.