Wisconsin to consider funding local weed eradication

A farmer and an extension educator’s efforts have led to legislation to fight the spread of wild parsnip.  Stevens Point Democrat Katrina Shankland says she drafted a bill to help fund local weed commissioner efforts around the state.  She says exposure to wild parsnip is a human health issue that needs to be addressed. “It’s a chemical burn that can take years to fully heal from, and we’ve seen, you know, really catastrophic damage done on little children and dogs specifically, but also some workers comp claims from workers who weren’t familiar with what wild parsnip is.”

Shankland commended farmer and Weed Commissioner John Eron and Portage County UW Extension Ag Agent Ken Schroeder for education and eradication efforts.  Eron convinced Portage and Wood counties to utilize a long-forgotten state statute allowing counties to appoint a weed commissioner, giving him the authority to mow or spray on public or private property. Shankland says, “They presented to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Department of Natural Resources, and lawmakers and staff about all of their efforts and everyone was blown away. I’ve never gotten more contacts from other legislative offices asking us for their power points, asking us for their strategies, asking us how to get a weed commissioner in their county.”

Shankland says the bill would incentivize counties to have a weed commissioner and provide funding assistance.  So far, Eron is the only weed commissioner in the state, and Eron, his deputies, and the county highway departments have covered much of the expense.

The bill would create a competitive grant program to fund county weed commissioner efforts and is being circulated for co-sponsorship.  It already has the support of Republican Senator Patrick Testin and is being circulated for co-sponsors at the Capitol.

State Representative Katrina Shankland discusses wild parsnip control, and her bill to fund local weed commissioner efforts
State Senator Patrick Testin updates status of wild parsnip/weed control bill and what’s next

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