Weed & Pest takes to the sky as cheatgrass mitigation begins today

JACKSON, Wyo. — Teton County Weed and Pest District (TCWP) is initiating the “Cheatgrass Mitigation Program” today, set to treat the plant extensively across the valley.

Cheatgrass is a highly invasive non-native annual grass with a quick-growing life cycle giving it a competitive advantage over native vegetation. This mitigation program is expansive with the goal of reaching over 7,000 acres next month from Jackson to the Hoback Canyon.

TCWP launched a pilot program in 2017 and covered a little over 300 acres. Following the success of that program, TCWP has put together a comprehensive plan to address the risks of invasive grasses with the support of these partners; Wyoming Game and Fish, Teton Conservation District, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, The National Elk Refuge, and Bridger-Teton National Forest. With this fleet of partners, the treatment program will cover more ground than ever before and make a significant positive impact on the ecosystem. Aerial application with helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) will allow for uniform coverage, cost-effectiveness, safety, and ecologically sensitive treatment of cheatgrass.

Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) germinates in autumn which makes treatment in August imperative. This invasive grass out-competes native forbs and grasses for water and nutrients. This significantly diminishes the quality of wildlife habitat, especially in the critical mule deer and bighorn sheep winter range.

Typically, this time of year brings with it wildfires, and cheatgrass is a major player. Cheatgrass dries early in the summer making it a serious fire risk, potentially leading to more frequent and larger fires and further habitat loss. A mere lightning strike can ignite an aggressive fire in dry cheatgrass infested lands. An example of this was the fire in early August near the National Museum of Wildlife Art that burned 89 acres.

Treatment areas will include Southern facing slopes in Jackson; Miller Butte on National Elk Refuge, Crystal Butte, High School Butte, and hillsides along Highway 89 from the Town of Jackson to Hoback Canyon. These slopes are crucial for winter range and transitional habitat for elk, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.

Rejuvra and Plateau are the herbicides being used. When applied according to the EPA approved label (following label rates and mixing/handling/application instructions), there is no known acute or chronic toxicity for either of these herbicides. More information about these herbicides can be found online.

For more information, go online or contact TCWP with any questions or
concerns. Text “cheatgrass” to 313131 to stay up to date on day to day treatment areas.

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