Pilot project—2016 c 44: "(1) The state noxious weed control board shall conduct a pilot project that evaluates the options, methods, and costs of purposefully replacing pollen-rich and nectar-rich noxious weeds, such as knapweeds and nonnative thistles, which are productive forage plants for honey bees, with either native or noninvasive, nonnative forage plants that can produce similar levels of pollen and nectar with a similar bloom succession to support populations of honey bees and other pollinators. The goal of the pilot project is to develop optional guidance and best practices for landowners and land managers faced with the removal of noxious weeds. The pilot project must be developed to maximize the dual public benefits of reducing noxious weeds in Washington and supporting agricultural production through the maintenance of access to seasonally balanced pollen-rich and nectar-rich plants for honey bees and other pollinators.
(2)(a) In implementing the pilot project, the state noxious weed control board must coordinate with willing landowners to provide goods or services, such as plant starts and seed packs, necessary to replace noxious weeds with either native or noninvasive, nonnative plants or to create, in conjunction with noxious weed control efforts, new seasonally balanced forage patches for honey bees and other pollinators.
(b) Priority in participation in the pilot project must be given to interested private landowners located in areas where the dual benefits of the pilot project can be maximized. However, public landowners or managers may also be considered for participation. No landowner may be required to participate in the pilot project either directly or as a condition of a permit or other governmental action.
(3) The implementation details of the pilot project required by this section are at the sole discretion of the state noxious weed control board, including the selection of pilot project partners and participants. However, pilot project partners should be located in both eastern and western Washington. The state noxious weed control board:
(a) Shall coordinate with the county noxious weed control boards in which pilot projects are located, unless the county does not have a local noxious weed control board; and
(b) May coordinate with the state conservation commission or individual conservation districts in the implementation of the pilot project if the state noxious weed control board finds that coordination would be beneficial.
(4) The state noxious weed control board must issue a report to the legislature, consistent with RCW 43.01.036
, that outlines the successes and challenges of the pilot project, including the development of the tools in this subsection. This report must be presented by October 31, 2020, and include:
(a) A description of the following tools:
(i) A list of suitable pollen-rich forage plant alternatives to noxious weeds, taking into account traits such as nectar and pollen quality, bloom succession, growth requirements, and habitat type;
(ii) A list of seed and plant start suppliers that may be able to provide pollen-rich forage plant alternatives to noxious weeds. The list may only include suppliers who are willing to ensure the identity and purity of seed through appropriate testing performed or approved by the Washington state department of agriculture or by any other agency authorized under the laws of any state, territory, or possession that has standards and procedures approved by the United States secretary of agriculture to ensure the identity and purity of seed; and
(iii) A matrix, based on the pilot project, to provide guidelines to landowners and land managers when replacing noxious weeds or creating new pollen-rich forage patches;
(b) An assessment scale that may be used by landowners, land managers, and the apiary industry to rate the usefulness of the tools described in this subsection; and
(c) Any recommendations for extending the pilot project or using the lessons learned as part of Washington's overall noxious weed control strategy.