FAQs

What it would take to be a certified noxious weed sprayer in MT?

There is no single answer to your question since it is dependent on a number of different factors. First, determine the type of license(s) that you’ll need: Commercial, Governmental, Public Utility, Non-Commercial, Dealer and/or Private. Next, determine the type of site(s) where the pesticides will be used: Agricultural Plants, Forest, Turf Grass, Right of Ways or Rangeland, etc. There is a lot of information available on our website, just type in pesticides.mt.gov into your browser to be redirected to the Department of Agriculture’s pesticide program pages.

Are there grants available to help treat noxious weeds?

There are several sources available to treat noxious weeds, but rarely to one landowner. If a weed management area is formed with several landowners, the chance of receiving grant funds increases. The MT Department of Ag’s Noxious Weed Trust Fund is one avenue to pursue grants, the deadline is usually the first of December and forms can be found online. On a larger scale, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation offers grants, and Department of Natural Resource Conservation and local conservation districts also offer grant funds. You can check with your local conservation district office to inquire about possible funding. Currently NRCS is also providing grant funding through special initiative funds called EQUIP. Several other Montana organizations offer grants including PPL and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.   Again, when a cooperative weed management area (CWMA) is formed and organized well, there are several avenues of funding available. Please check out our grant opportunity postings on the MWCA Classified  Web Page where we put all opportunities that we become aware of.

I am a private landowner and I’d like to be able to spray restricted herbicide. What is the process to become certified to do that?

To obtain a private applicator license, you must contact your local county extension agent as they administer private applicator licensing program. A private applicator license allows private landowners to purchase and apply restricted-use pesticides. You will need to complete a specialized training and pass an applicator test. A fee is charged for your license. Licenses are renewed on a five-year cycle based on your location in Montana.

Montana State University maintains a website with information about the program. MWCA puts classes for both private and commercial applicators on our Events Calendar Page on our website.

How do I Winterize my Equipment and Protect my Chemicals?

Here are some great publications to help you prepare for winter Montana State University Integrated Pest Management program’s bulletin about winterizing your equipment and cold storage of chemicals. Download the MSU bulletin.

Timm Johannesen of Warne Chemical also has excellent information on this topic. Please contact Timm at timm@warnechemical.com or 800 658-5457.

Learn About Calibration for Using Herbicides

One of the most important things that can be done when using herbicides is making sure you are spraying the right plant and you are using the right amount of herbicide. Learning how to use the right amount of herbicide is called calibration.

  • Contact your local weed coordinator or extension agent.
  • Attend a Private Applicator’s Class in your area.
  • Use a combination of print and video materials available.

The following are some of the print materials available. We have provided links or you may contact your extension agent.

MWCA helped to underwrite this short video that demonstrates calibration of equipment. We have broken it down in to 6 steps.

MSU Extension also has a DVD available for purchase on their website. There is also information on the MSU Webpage on Calibration.

Why doesn’t my county enforce the weed law?

While many counties in Montana are actively upholding the county weed act, several have decided they will not enforce this act due to time, staffing shortages or choose to educate landowners regarding noxious weeds.. It is a common misperception that counties can enforce every problem that arises; when in fact, it is a financial burden for a county to enforce the county weed act or any other act. When a county completes an enforcement, it is at the expense of the taxpayers of the county. The county sprays the property and bills the landowner. If the landowner does not pay the bill, it eventually goes on his taxes, a process that can take up to two years and leaves the county with the expense until the taxes are paid. If your county does not enforce the weed act, and you file a complaint with them, they are in violation of the law by not acting on that complaint.

Are there grants available for landowners


There are several sources available to treat noxious weeds, but rarely to one landowner. If a weed management area (also known as a CWMA) is formed with several landowners, the chance of receiving grant funds increases. The MT Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Trust Fund is one avenue to pursue grants, the deadline is the first of January and forms can be found online. On a larger scale, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation offers grants, and Department of Natural Resource Conservation and local conservation districts also offer grant funds. You can check with your local conservation district office to inquire about possible funding. Currently NRCS is also providing grant funding through special initiative funds called EQUIP. Several other Montana organizations offer grants including PPL and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Again, when a CWMA is formed and organized well, there are several avenues of funding available.

Recommended books

Our own Noxious Weed Field Guide profiles current and easy-to-understand weed ID for Montana’s state-listed weeds. It can be ordered from this site and in some cases, you may be able to contact your local county weed coordinator to obtain a free copy. Order here (link to store)

We also provide a “Why Should You Care” Brochure that has very relevant information about why being concerned about noxious weeds is worth your time. It can also be ordered from this site. Order here (link to store)

“Common Native & Invasive Wetland Plants in Montana”, July 2010 by MT DEQ Wetland Program, authors Carpenedo & Saul – FREE http://deq.mt.gov/wqinfo/wetlands/wetlandplantbooklet.mcpx

For Western Montanans: “Non-native Invasive plants of the Pacific Coast Forests”, a field guide for identification, authors Gray, Barndt & Reichard  – FREE To download the guide visit http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr817.pdf or order a hard copy by sending an e-mail to pnw_pnwpubs@fs.fed.us. Ask for PNW-GTR-817.

While not a weed ID book, it is a great resource for natives and revegetation: “Roadside Revegetation, Utilizing Native Species in the Western United States. 2010 version and authors are Winston and Schwarzlander – FREE

For Eastern Montanans: “Weeds of the Great Plains” produced by the Nebraska Dept of Ag – $25 (hardback)http://www.agr.state.ne.us/forms/nw11.pdf“Weeds of the West” 9th edition, 2006, Author Tom Whitson – $32 (with shipping)http://www.uwyo.edu/ces/wyoweed/_files/doc/weeds_of_west_order.pdf

 “Weeds of the Prairies” Government of Alberta, Ag & Rural Development – MWCA Carries these books. Order here (link to store)

Are noxious weeds ranked or prioritized?

Noxious Weeds are listed according to the following priorities:

Priority 1A – These weeds are not present in Montana.  Management criteria will require eradication of detected; education and prevention.

Priority 1B – These weeds are have limited presence in Montana.  Management criteria will require eradication or containment and education.

Priority 2A – These weeds are common in isolated areas of Montana.   Management criteria will required eradication or containment where less abundant.  Management shall be prioritized by local weed districts.

Priority 2B – These weeds are abundant in Montana and widespread in many counties.   Management criteria will require eradication or containment where less abundant.  Management shall be prioritized by local weed districts.

Priority 3 – Regulated Plants – NOT Montana Listed Noxious Weeds.  These regulated plants have the potential to have significant negative impacts.  These plants may not be intentionally spread or sold other than as a contaminant in agricultural products.  the state recommends research, education and prevention to minimize the spread of the regulated plant.

Download a copy of the current priority list

Does the Montana Weed Control Association have a specialty plate?

In 2005, the MWCA, through initiative by board member Kim Goodwin, contracted with Fossil Creative out of Kalispell to design a specialty plate and the Association was extremely fortunate to obtain such an appealing design. The MWCA specialty plate portrays a cowboy on a horse with cattle and mountains in the background, and it remains a strong selling plate despite the considerable competition. If you are looking for a special plate, we encourage you to support our cause and not only help in the war on weeds, but purchase a unique and very “Montana” license plate.

How much chemical do I use for my sprayer and what chemical do I use for my noxious weeds?

Because soil and environmental conditions vary greatly across Montana, and all sprayers distribute spray at different rates, generic recommendations cannot be made. Please contact your local county weed professionals to obtain the best recommendations for your specific plants and conditions. Or you can visit the calibration video we have posted earlier in the FAQ section. Again, because of the variety of herbicide available, differing soil conditions, and because of a variety of environmental conditions, it is best that you contact your weed professional(s) to properly assess your weeds and identify the best herbicides for your specific environment.

I don’t want to use chemicals, what are my options?

There is no silver bullet in weed management, and integrated control measures are the best bet. There are many options available for noxious weed control, but not all options work for every invasive. Please refer to integrated weed management for more specific recommendations.

How do I identify which plants are actually noxious weeds on my property?

Many publications are available for weed ID including our own MT Noxious Weed Field Guide, Weeds of the Prairies, Weeds of the West, many publications through Montana State University, and several websites. However, if you don’t want to go that route, you can contact a local weed professional to walk through your property with you or you can take samples of the plants and have them identified at Montana State University.

– Guidelines for Submitting Plant Specimens for ID

– Plant ID Contacts 

My neighbors don’t take care of their weeds, what can I do?

The best first step is try to offer your neighbor a form of education concerning noxious weeds or engage them in forming a weed management area. If that does not work you may want to contact your county weed coordinator. Ultimately your county commissioners and county attorney determine enforcement protocol within your county. If you can’t get satisfactory answers from your local weed professionals, please contact your commissioners. Enforcement of the county weed act is unique to each county.

There are weeds on the public lands bordering my property, what is the best way to address this?

State agencies are required to file weed management plans with their local county weed districts, but federal agencies are not required to file plans. Many of these agencies, however, do work closely with many weed districts in developing their plans. The first step may be to contact your local county weed district and you may also want to contact the agency personnel in charge of that property listed on this website. They can inform you of the correct channels to issue a complaint or address your concerns for the property in question.

I am interested in purchasing property, but I don’t want to buy a weed problem, what should I do – and isn’t my realtor obligated to tell me about noxious weeds?

The first step in defense of buying infested property is educating yourself on the types of noxious weeds that are present in the area. Ethically, your realtor should inform you of the weed problem, if any, present on the property. There is a clause in most buy-sell agreements addressing this issue. If you have knowledge of the noxious weed infestations present on the property, you have the power to negotiate a better deal. Dealing with a severe noxious weed infestation can reduce property value and take many years and large amounts of money to get under control. While looking over potential properties, it does not hurt to observe the weed situation of surrounding properties as well.

Why doesn’t my county enforce the weed law?

While many counties in Montana are actively upholding the county weed act, several have decided they will not enforce this act due to time, financial, or staffing shortages. And even if you believe your county doesn’t pursue enforcement, you may not have the entire story. It is a common misperception that counties can enforce every problem that arises; when in fact, it is a financial burden for a county to enforce the county weed act. While this act is a law, there is no funding from the state to enforce the law for the counties. If a county does enforce the law, they have to budget for it. When a county completes an enforcement, it is at the expense of the taxpayers of the county. The county sprays the property and bills the landowner. If the landowner does not pay the bill, it eventually goes on his taxes, a process that can take up to two years and leaves the county with the expense until the taxes are paid. If your county does not enforce the weed act, and you file a complaint with them, they are in violation of the law by not acting on that complaint.

What happens if I don’t treat my noxious weeds?

If invasives are allowed to spread, several ramifications can occur: good plant populations will eventually be crowded out and disappear; some noxious weeds are toxic to animals and to other plants (Knapweed is known to produce a toxin that is a natural herbicide, warding off good plants); erosion will set in and impact wildlife habitat and fisheries; your neighbors and/or county weed professional may put you in non-compliance; and your view shed will be greatly diminished.

How does the state decide on what makes for a state or county-listed noxious weed?

The Department (of Agriculture) has the authority to designate noxious weeds under Administrative Rules 4.5.201 and have used the following procedure to designate noxious weeds:

Petitions to add a new weed to the statewide noxious weed list are received by the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) from individuals or organizations. Petitions can be found at www.agr.mt.gov.

The petitions are reviewed first by a technical core committee using ecological, distribution, impact, and legal status criteria within the State of Montana and for the adjoining states and provinces, followed by a general economic and practicability assessment.

The core committee then makes a recommendation to the Montana Weed List Advisory Committee [comprised of individuals representing the western, central and eastern weed districts, the Montana Weed Control Association (MWCA), agriculture groups, federal agencies, Montana State University (MSU) extension service, University of Montana (U of M), MDA representative, state agencies, tribes and other interest groups who make a recommendation to the director of the Department of Agriculture.

If the director accepts the recommendations, the MDA proposes a rule change, holds public hearings if necessary, and the rules are adopted, published and distributed.

Why isn’t kochia or dandelion on the noxious weed list?

Some counties have kochia listed as a noxious weed on the county weed list but the state does not. The definition of a noxious weed is as follows:

“Noxious weeds” or “weeds” means any exotic plant species established or that may be introduced in the state that may render land unfit for agriculture, forestry, livestock, wildlife, or other beneficial uses or that may harm native plant communities and that is designated:

* as a statewide noxious weed by rule of the department; or

* as a district noxious weed by a board, following public notice of intent and a public hearing.

* A weed designated by rule of the department as a statewide noxious weed must be considered noxious in every district of the state

I am an organic farmer and I don’t want the county to spray along my property, what are my options?

(from the county weed act) 7-22-2153. Voluntary agreements for control of noxious weeds along roads — liability of landowner who objects to weed district control measures — penalties.

(1) Any person may voluntarily seek to enter into an agreement for the management of noxious weeds along a state or county highway or road bordering or running through the person’s land. The coordinator may draft a voluntary agreement upon the request of and in cooperation with the person. However, the agreement must, in the board’s judgment, provide for effective weed management. The weed management agreement must be signed by the person and, upon approval of the board, by the presiding officer. An agreement involving a state highway right-of-way must also be signed by a representative of the department of transportation.

(2) The agreement must contain a statement disclaiming any liability of the board and, if applicable, the department of transportation for any injuries or losses suffered by the person in managing noxious weeds on the state or county highway right-of-way. The signed agreement transfers responsibility for managing noxious weeds on the specified section of right-of-way from the board to the person signing the agreement. If the board later finds that the person has failed to adhere to the agreement, the board shall issue an order informing the person that the agreement will be void and that responsibility for the management of noxious weeds on the right-of-way will revert to the board unless the person complies with the provisions of the agreement within a specified time period.

(3) (a) If a person objects to weed control measures bordering a state or county highway right-of-way and does not enter a voluntary agreement pursuant to subsections (1) and (2) and if the board finds that the person has failed to provide alternative weed control, the board shall issue an order informing the person that the management of noxious weeds on the right-of-way will be undertaken by the board unless the person provides alternative weed control within 30 days. (b) A person who does not provide alternative weed control within the time specified in subsection (3)(a) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced pursuant to 46-18-212 and assessed the costs of weed control provided by the board. A second or subsequent conviction is punishable by a fine of not less than $500 or more than $2,000, plus the costs of weed control provided by the board.

Are noxious weeds toxic to my animals if they eat them?

While native such as death camas and lupine can be extremely toxic to sheep, certain species of noxious weeds can be toxic to cattle and horses. While most of these toxic plants are not desirable forage for animals, if they are forced to eat them, they can result in problems. Plants toxic to horses include houndstounge and Yellow Starthistle. Plants toxic to cattle and horses include tall buttercup and Common Tansy (for sheep) St. Johnswort causes blistering on cattle, Tansy Ragwort for cattle.

If I obtain my private applicator’s license, can I help out my fellow neighbors by spraying their weeds too?

After you obtain a private applicator license, you can spray a neighbor’s property, but it MUST adjoin your property and YOU MUST get permission to spray their property first. You cannot be paid for the spraying and you CAN NOT apply restricted use products on a neighbor’s property; only GENERAL USE produces can be used.

Featured Video

Leafy spurge is one of the worst noxious weeds we have in Montana! It has extensive root systems of up to 30 feet deep, making it extremely difficult to control.

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