Cheatgrass

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.

The United States Forest Service OK'd a plan that will green light aerial herbicide treatment in some areas of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The Forest Service’s plan, dubbed the Invasive Plant Management Project, solidifies the department’s approach toward reducing or eliminating noxious weeds in the area.

The Environmental Impact Statement offered three alternatives of action. Forest officials chose the second alternative, then further modified it.

The second alternative will allow the Forest Service to treat a greater range of invasive species, allow EPA-registered species-specific herbicide usage and increase protection measures concerning herbicide application.

The aerial treatment will only take place in “limited or specific circumstances” according to the statement. Additionally, “designated Wilderness or wilderness study areas” will be excluded from aerial treatment, according to a Bridger-Teton National Forest press release Wednesday.

According to the plan, the Forest can treat up to 20,000 acres with herbicides annually for the next 15 years. Of that acreage, only 5,000 to 15,000 acres could be treated aerially, according to the impact statement. The plan aims to protect native plant species and also maintain human health.

“Updating the invasive species management plan is essential to maintaining and even improving the amazing wildlife habitat that we manage on the Bridger-Teton National Forest,” said Chad Hayward, acting Pinedale District Ranger, in the recent press release.

For more information, the Final EIS and the Record of Decision are available online at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=52791.

Contact Lillian Bissell by emailing lbissell@jhnewsandguide.com.

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