FRESNO,CA (AP) - State budget cuts could harm efforts to keep a common invasive weed from crowding out native plants in California's Sierra Nevada range.

The yellow star thistle already is found in every county but one and covers as many as 14 million acres.

Experts say the weed has altered native landscapes and transformed meadows into deserts. Now, they warn the thistle could become more common since the state's effort to it from spreading is losing funding.

The Sacramento Bee reports the California Department of Food and Agriculture directed $2.7 million to a statewide weed control budget in 2011.

But the specific funds dedicated to the Star Thistle Leading Edge Project were eliminated in the 2011-12 state budget cycle.

Other funds the project gathered from different sources are set to run out next month.

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