Invasive, non-native aquatic plants are a serious threat to the health of lakes, rivers, and streams throughout the state. Excessive weed growth impairs fish and wildlife habitat and restricts recreational activities. Traditionally, residents and property owners have borne the high costs of controlling these plants.
In 1991, the legislature established the Freshwater Aquatic Weeds Account to provide financial and technical support to tackle the problem on a statewide level. This Account provides funding for technical assistance, public education and grants to help control aquatic weeds. Revenue for the Account comes from a $3 increase in annual license fees for boat trailers.
Grant projects must address prevention and/or control of freshwater, invasive, non-native aquatic plants. The types of activities funded include: Planning, education, monitoring, implementation, pilot/demonstration projects, surveillance and mapping projects.
Cities, counties, state agencies, tribes, and special purpose districts (does not include lake management districts) are eligible to receive grants. Lakes groups and other private organizations must work in conjunction with their local governments to receive funding for projects.
Grant applications are accepted from October 1 through November 15 of each year during a formal application process. Grant applications are evaluated by people experienced with aquatic plant management. Funds are offered to selected applicants in the winter. Generally about $300,000 is available during each annual funding cycle.
An additional $100,000 is available on a year-round basis for "early infestation" grants. The purpose of early infestation grants is to provide immediate financial assistance to local or state governments to eradicate or contain an invasion of a non-native aquatic plant.
Local sponsors are required to provide 25 percent of the eligible project costs as a match to state funds. However, in-kind services can be used for up to one-half of the local share. Grants of up to 87.5 percent of the eligible project costs can be provided for early infestation projects and for pilot projects.
In waterbodies with well-established populations of non-native, invasive aquatic plants, the development of an integrated aquatic plant management plan is required before grants can be awarded for implementation (control projects). However, grants are available for the development of integrated aquatic plant management plans.
Funds awarded for projects to control aquatic weed growth can be used only for water bodies that have public boat launching facilities. Water bodies designated fly fishing only by the Department of Fish and Wildlife are also eligible for Aquatic Weeds financial assistance.
Funds are limited to $30,000 (state share) for planning grants and $75,000 (state share) for other projects. Each public body is limited to $75,000 per annual grant cycle and $75,000 for early infestation. Early infestation projects are limited to $50,000 per project.
Projects dealing with the prevention or management of freshwater invasive submersed plants like Eurasian watermilfoil or Brazilian elodea receive funding priority over projects dealing with nuisance native plants. Projects that implement an approved integrated aquatic plant management plan receive the highest priority. Other factors considered when evaluating projects include the environmental and economic impacts of the problem plants on the ecosystem, the degree that the project will benefit the public, the likelihood of the problem plant to spread to other water bodies, the long-term interest and commitment to the project by the waterbody residents, and state wide significance of the project.
For more information about the Aquatic Weeds Management Fund or to find out how to apply for grant funds, contact:
Phone: (360) 407-6938
Washington State Department of Ecology
Water Quality Program
Attn: Lizbeth Seebacher
Water Quality Program
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia WA 98504-7600
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