For Better Bicycling, Salt Lake City’s Proposed Weed Ordinance Update Needs to Cover Puncturevine

Salt Lake City will be considering an update to its Property Clearing and Weed Control Ordinance on September 4, 2018 with a vote scheduled for September 18, 2018.
Cycling Utah submitted the following comments in regards to the ordinance.

How to comment: Send comments to the Salt Lake City Council at [email protected] or go to the public hearing on September 4, 2018. The agenda and information is here:

Puncturevine or Goatheads are awful for bikes and lead to many flat tires.
Puncturevine seeds shown here can puncture bike tires or animals feet. Photo by Dave Iltis

The Property Clearing and Weed Control Amendments rewrite is missing a key weed and how to control them, along with some other items. It also has some poorly constructed requirements and remedies.

Puncturevine, or Goat Heads, are dreadful for bicycling, dogs, and any other animals, including human feet.
They have been added to the Utah State Noxious Weed list, and are also on the Salt Lake County Noxious Weed list.
But, the weed ordinance doesn’t cover their control or mention them explicitly.
Puncturevine is a ground level weed that very very rarely ever gets to a height of 6” or more, and hence the control of it won’t fall under the ordinance.
This article is from prior to when it was added to the state noxious weed list.
Control is addressed in the ordinance here: 
C. Those plants named in the Utah noxious weed act, Title 4, Chapter 17, Utah Code, and its
subsequent regulations and successor sections.
But, you need a section D to be in compliance with the Salt Lake County Noxious Weed list.
Currently, it appears as though the lists have the same plants, but this is not always the case.
The weed is particularly harmful to bicycling in Salt Lake City and on the Jordan River Trail, and can cause multiple flats for cyclists. Imagine a family ride where everyone gets flat tires.
With the amount of money SLC spends on trails such as the Jordan River Trail or the Folsom Trail, a solid ordinance and plan for Puncturevine is imperative.
The weed is found all over the city, sometimes in parking strips, parking lots, abandoned or empty lots, etc. It is difficult to eradicate, but can be controlled, especially if the weeds are pulled earlier in the year. Mulching is not a good idea later in the year since this will only serve to plant the seeds in the ground.
The following section of the code would be useless for Puncturevine because of the 6” height limitation, and is likely useless for many other weeds on the state list (e.g. bindweed, Bermuda grass, garlic mustard, Myrtle Spurge etc. that are noxious even when less than 6” in height). This would not be in compliance with the state or county noxious weed program.
A. It is unlawful for any person, corporation, partnership or other legal entity owning real
property in Salt Lake City to fail to maintain the height of weeds, as provided in section 9.16.040
of this chapter; or to fail to remove from the property any cuttings from such weeds, or any solid
waste, unsightly or deleterious objects or structures, or to fail to effectively secure any vacant
structure after having been given written notice to do so from the Division or inspector.
B. It shall be the duty of every property owner to remove all weeds and noxious vegetation from
the area of land located between the parcel’s property line and the roadway. Failure to remove
such weeds and noxious vegetation in accordance with the specifications set forth in section
9.16.040 shall constitute a violation subject to the abatement procedures and penalties set forth in
this chapter.
A. Weeds shall be maintained at a height of not more than six inches (6″) (15.2 cm) at all times,
and the cuttings shall be promptly cleared and removed from the premises.
B. Weeds which are eradicated by chemicals must be done so before their height exceeds six
inches (6″) (15.2 cm), or they must be cut at a level not exceeding six inches (6″) (15.2 cm) in
C. Weeds which are rototilled or removed by the root must be buried under the soil or removed
from the property.
D. When, in the opinion of the inspector, the large size of the property makes the cutting of all
weeds impractical, the inspector may, by written order, allow and limit the required cutting of
weeds to a firebreak of not less than fifteen feet (15′) (4.6 m) in width cut around the complete
perimeter of the property and around any structures existing upon the property
The council really needs to revisit this ordinance and make changes to it so that it covers Puncturevine, the height of weeds, and is compliant with the state noxious weed list. Weeds are not just plants that grow higher than 6”.
Puncturevine should be explicitly addressed in the updated ordinance given its impact on alternative transportation.
Note: Salt Lake City’s weed guide is here:
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