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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Extension Service Publishes Guide to New Mexico's Invasive Weeds

LAS CRUCES -- As part of a statewide effort to stem the spread of invasive weeds, New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service is distributing a pocket-sized identification guide for $3.

"New Mexico's Invasive Weeds" was written by Richard Lee, NMSU Extension weed specialist, with funding from a host of state and federal land management agencies.

The spiral-bound booklet contains color photos and descriptions of 25 invasive weeds found in the state, from field bindweed to dyer's woad.

"The plants we talk about are all nonnative," Lee said. "When they came into this country, they came in without their natural checks and balances."

Copies of the guide are available at county Extension offices throughout the state or by calling (505) 646-3228. The goal is to help farmers, hikers and other New Mexicans identify the fast-spreading weeds so they can be contained.

Invasive weeds have been compared to a biological wildfire that's out of control and spreading in Western states. Between 1985 and 1995, weeds quadrupled their range on federal lands in the West, said Billy Dictson, NMSU interim Extension director.

"We estimate that invasive wees are spreading at the rate of about 200 acres per hour throughout the West on public lands," he said. "Weeds have invaded approximately 17 million acres of public land in the West, and in New Mexico we have lots of public land and also a lot of private land where invasive weeds are a problem."

Weeds like leafy spurge and Russian knapweed infest millions of acres in other Western states, causing both economic and environmental damage. They choke out native vegetation, increase soil erosion, damage watersheds and provide poor forage for wildlife and cattle.

"It's our hope that through education and a voluntary program we can get a handle on this and stop the problem here before it becomes too great," said Frank DuBois, director and secretary of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA).

Voluntary weed management groups are organizing with assistance from county Extension agents and soil and water conservation districts.

"We're still at the point in New Mexico where we have some of those noxious weeds but they haven't had a really strong impact on producers, which is good, because it means we can still control them in a way that's cost-effective," said Frannie Decker, NMDA noxious weeds specialist.

Agencies supporting the invasive weeds guide include NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service; New Mexico Department of Agriculture; Bureau of Land Management; U.S. Forest Service; New Mexico Vegetation Management Association; Plant Protection and Quarantine with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; and New Mexico Highway and Transportation Department.