A Bridger-Teton National Forest hillside in the Boulder Ridge area north of Pinedale has become dominated by cheatgrass. Forest officials have sought authorization to combat the non-native grass with aerial spraying of herbicides.

Dozens of square miles of the Bridger-Teton National Forest infested with invasive cheatgrass will soon be sprayed from the air.

Forest officials announced on Friday that they had signed off on a draft decision that will prioritize dousing cheatgrass with herbicides on crucial big game winter range, within fuels reduction and logging projects, and along roads, trails and power lines.

“My decision authorizes annual treatment of approximately 20,000 acres,” Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Tricia O’Connor wrote in her decision document. “This includes an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 acres that could be treated using aerial application of herbicides.”

Cheatgrass is a fast-spreading exotic grass which is native to Eurasia and northern Africa. It cures early in the summer and can increase the risk of wildfire.

For years, other national forests in the American West that are overrun by cheatgrass have used aerial spraying. The Bridger-Teton never sought the authorization, partly because early U.S. Forest Service botanists doubted the species could proliferate in high, snowy northwestern Wyoming forests.

Cheatgrass has since proved otherwise, spreading to many corners of the Bridger-Teton and especially the outskirts of the Wind River Range.

O’Connor’s decision still must navigate the objection process. Concerned citizens have until Nov. 12 to send in their comments. Objections can be emailed to regional forester Nora Rasure at

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them for 7 years. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

(1) comment

Colleen Cabot

This is shocking news that B-T Forest is planning aerial spraying of herbicides. What herbicide will they use? What impact will this have on non-target vegetation, birds, insects, amphibians, wildlife.....Insects and birds and many other species are going extinct. Is this wise? Why not institute controlled burning?

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.