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www.weedfreefeed.com RECEIVES 'MERIT AWARD'

In a first for the California Trails & Greenways Conference, a website received the 18th Annual California Trails & Greenway Conference Merit Award. The website, www.weedfreefeed.com (cross referenced as www.weedfreeforage.com), was presented the prestigious "2000-2001 Trail/Greenway Program Merit Award" at its Annual Award Banquet September 8th.

Each year a California program is selected to receive the Award based upon it being "an active trail/greenway program that has benefitted trails and greenways". www.weedfreefeed.com was selected by Judges and Awards Committee for its "creation and maintenance of a public service website developed for the education of all trail users regarding the prevention of noxious weeds on public lands."

According to developer/manager, Bonnie Davis of Fremont, Ca., "weed free was designed to assist horseowners in California and those hauling into the state in locating weed free hay or forage. Beginning in the year 2003, all equestrians on California federal and state lands will have to feed California grown and certified weed free feed. Agencies such as the Forest Service, BLM, state parks didn't seem to know where to buy it, how to find it or even where to begin. Obviously there was this huge gap in the regulations, the requirments, the availability, growing and even locating the forage so weed free was a thought and then became a reality.

"The site is strictly educational and informational. Weed free doesn't have anything to sell. We're kept on line by Supportors who are basically individuals who ride, camp and pack on public lands. Plus with our Sponsors, Nature's Best Pelleting, Backcountry Horsemen of California, California State Horsemen's Association, Two Horse Enterprises, Ohlone Riders Unit of BCHC, Bay Area Barns and Trails, Bay Area Equestrian Network. Folks who want to keep our public lands open to equestrian uses by making sure they can maintain the ability to feed and ride on these lands.

"www.weedfreefeed.com provides information for growers on the Certification process for certifying fields. For horsemen looking to buy feed, there's a list of outlets or growers who have the feed available. And if one just can't find weed free feed, there's a list of Ag Commissioners by individual counties to contact since each county Ag Commissioner will certify fields in his own county.

"On the education side, 'Why Weed Free' should be read by everyone. You'd be amazed at the number of acres being lost every year to weeds nationwide. Then there's individual weed photos with descriptions so if a person thinks they have a weed on their property or finds one growing by a trail, they can print the page out and then compare it to the trail side weed. And the site is available not only to horseowners but other trail users such as hikers, bikers, backpackers or anyone who is interested in preventing the spreak of noxious weeds," Davis stated.

Preventing the spread of weeds is a national program under the Noxious Weed Act. Every state in the nation will eventually have restrictions and requirements for the feeding of only weed free feed when utilizing federal lands. In addition to federal lands, many states such as California are including state owned public lands in the requirements for weed free forage.

"Horseowners are not opposed to using weed free feed or forage on our federal and state public lands," Davis continued. "But we are concerned that a lot of the weed free restrictions will be in place and enforced before weed free feed is available. That's the biggest fear among the recreational, pleasure trail riding segment of the horse industry when we hear about these various weed free programs. Where can we buy the feed? If horseowners can't find weed free feed, we won't be able to ride public lands.

"Eventually we hope to expand weed free feed to all states in the nation so a horseowner or agency person can go to www.weedfreefeed.com, click their state button and instantly locate growers, dealers and outlets. Then an equestrian will know where to buy the feed in any state. Even an agency representative can tell a person on the phone where to buy or even print out the Outlet page and give it to the person standing in their office. Public agencies have the responsibility to manage our public lands. But with that public lands management comes the added responsibiliby of informing the horse industry not only about rules and regulations but how we can MEET those rules and regulations. Since some agencies have a problem with keeping the public informed, www.weedfreefeed.com can help fill that gap," Davis concluded.

To view the site, go to www.weedfreefeed.com or www.weedfreeforage.com. Or contact Bonnie Davis at weedfreefeed@home.com, phone (510) 657-5239, fax (510) 683-9162 or write P.O. Box 14130, Fremont, Ca. 94539.





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