PINEDALE — Aerial cheatgrass spraying took place on national forest lands near Half Moon Lake this week, a collaborative effort between the US Forest Service Pinedale Ranger District and Sublette County Weed and Pest (SCWP) to control the invasive plant. Sublette County Weed and Pest’s contractor applied an herbicide treatment at the Sweeney Creek drainage, Little Half Moon and near Fayette Lake.
Although the Forest Service claims the chemicals used for treatment “are not harmful to people or animals,” in a Sept. 13 press release the agency requested “people who had planned to recreate in these areas … to make alternate plans.”
Cheatgrass is problematic according to SCWP because it competes with native vegetation for limited resources by growing up to between native plants and becomes a fire hazard after maturity. The noxious weed, which grows up to 18 inches tall, increases the fine fuels available for wildfires and alters the landscape for sagebrush obligate species, according to the USFS. Follow-up treatments may be necessary for up to four or five years because of the seed’s ability to survive in soils, according to SCWP.
Additional areas within Sublette County will be aerially treated for cheatgrass this fall. More information can be found at www.sublettecountyweed.com