(a) From funds available in the noxious weed and invasive plant species assistance account established in section 18.89, the commissioner shall administer a grant program to assist counties and municipalities and other weed management entities in the cost of implementing and maintaining noxious weed control programs and in addressing special weed control problems. The commissioner shall receive applications by counties, municipalities, weed management areas, and weed management entities for assistance under this section and, in consultation with the Noxious Weed Advisory Committee, award grants for any of the following eligible purposes:
(1) to conduct applied research to solve locally significant weed management problems;
(2) to demonstrate innovative control methods or land management practices which have the potential to reduce landowner costs to control noxious weeds or improve the effectiveness of noxious weed control;
(3) to encourage the ongoing support of weed management areas;
(4) to respond to introductions or infestations of invasive plants that threaten or potentially threaten the productivity of cropland and rangeland over a wide area;
(5) to respond to introductions or infestations of invasive plant species that threaten or potentially threaten the productivity of biodiversity of wildlife and fishery habitats on public and private lands;
(6) to respond to special weed control problems involving weeds not included in the list of noxious weeds published and distributed by the commissioner;
(7) to conduct monitoring or surveillance activities to detect, map, or determine the distribution of invasive plant species and to determine susceptible locations for the introduction or spread of invasive plant species; and
(8) to conduct educational activities.
(b) The commissioner shall select and prioritize applications for assistance under this section based on the following considerations:
(1) the seriousness of the noxious weed or invasive plant problem or potential problem addressed by the project;
(2) the ability of the project to provide timely intervention to save current and future costs of control and eradication;
(3) the likelihood that the project will prevent or resolve the problem or increase knowledge about resolving similar problems in the future;
(4) the extent to which the project will leverage federal funds and other nonstate funds;
(5) the extent to which the applicant has made progress in addressing noxious weed or invasive plant problems;
(6) the extent to which the project will provide a comprehensive approach to the control or eradication of noxious weeds;
(7) the extent to which the project will reduce the total population or area of infestation of a noxious weed;
(8) the extent to which the project uses the principles of integrated vegetation management and sound science; and
(9) other factors that the commissioner determines to be relevant.
(c) Nothing in this section may be construed to relieve a person of the duty or responsibility to control the spread of noxious weeds on lands owned and controlled by the person.