King County demands access to private property to fight noxious weeds

by: Amy Clancy Updated:

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KING COUNTY, Wash. - The King County Noxious Weed Control Program has been haggling for more than three years with a landowner over the presence of Bohemian knotweed growing along the Cedar River east of Renton. 

According to documents filed recently in Superior Court, the landowner in the 20000 block of Jones Road has apparently “refused” to get rid of the weeds, so the county filed a warrant for access to the property. 

“It’s extremely rare that we would have to go this far to access property to do this kind of work, which is required by the state,” Doug Williams of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks told KIRO 7 on Wednesday.

According to Williams, knotweed is particularly dangerous to the environment because it’s invasive, spreads quickly, crowds out native species, harms fish and wildlife and erodes riverbanks. 

The knotweed on the 13-acre property between Jones Road and the Cedar River was first discovered by a King County Noxious Weed Program staff member in June of 2011. 

According to court documents, the county has been trying ever since to convince the homeowner to either rid the land of the weeds himself or allow access to county workers to do it before the knotweed spreads. 

The landowner refused to take any action until the warrant was filed and a judge granted the county access to the property earlier this month. 

Williams said the homeowner agreed to allow access only after the warrant had been filed.  Last Friday, six county workers spent eight hours injecting the stem of each knotweed plant on the property with herbicide to kill the non-native plants.  Williams told KIRO 7 that had the weeds been treated three years ago, it would have taken far less time and effort.

“We are serious about this,” Williams said.  “We’ve eliminated knotweed from a lot of areas along the Cedar River with the exception of this one property, so it was really important that we get to this one property and get this dangerous infestation under control,” he told KIRO 7. 

KIRO 7 tried to find out why it took a warrant for the homeowner to finally agree to the herbicide, but he didn’t return phone calls.

Find more information on Bohemian knotweed here.

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