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Cheatgrass

Cheat grass has swept across millions of acres in the intermountain West, changing the fabric of the landscape. This annual invasive is a major economic and ecological concern for Wyoming, and scientifically-based action is needed quickly if we are to maximize our chances of successful management.

Until recently, much of Wyoming was considered too high in elevation for cheat grass. However, because of genetic variation and plasticity, cheat grass is now becoming established and is able to compete with native plant species in higher elevation areas with cooler temperatures - cheat grass has now been documented at over 8000 feet elevation in Sublette County. Many areas in Wyoming are currently in the introduction and/or establishment phases—this is comparable to the situation 15 to 20 years ago in large portions of the Great Basin that are now dominated by monocultures.

The majority of current research is focused towards rehabilitating ecosystems already dominated by annual grasses. However, limited research-based information exists as to how to effectively manage landscapes where cheat grass is present, but densities are such that the threshold into a monoculture has not been crossed.   

WWC is collaborating with a number of groups, agencies and private individuals to both raise awareness of the opportunity to manage the spread of cheat grass, and to investigate the potential to slow the spread of cheat grass through Ecologically-based Invasive Plant Management (EBIPM).  

Mapping services for cheat grass and other invasives are still available for the summer and fall of 2014.   WWC can assist your project with customizable aerial photography missions or satellite data collection and has the on-the-ground experience you need to track this detrimental species.

Bromus tectorum occurrence locations and cover classes predicted using field collected training data and a boosted CART algorithm in the Bighorn Basin, NW Wyoming.

 

 

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