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Governor’s initiative aims to rein in invasive species
Governor’s initiative aims to rein in invasive species
A group of state officials, scientists and agricultural experts held its first meeting last week in Lander as part of an initiative to better control invasive weed species like cheatgrass.
A group of state officials, scientists and agricultural experts held its first meeting last week in Lander as part of an initiative to better control invasive weed species like cheatgrass.

The group was assembled by Gov. Mark Gordon, who announced the initiative last month. It consists of two teams, one focused on policy and the other focused on the technical side of the issue.

Gordon said past efforts to manage invasive species have either relied on protective practices or the use of chemicals.

“That’s extraordinarily expensive and somewhat counterproductive,” Gordon said of chemical methods. “Cheatgrass is a huge issue. It actually is one of those things that’s very flammable, and it comes back after (burning) quicker than almost anything else.”

Dan Tekiela, a University of Wyoming plant sciences professor and extension specialist of invasive plant ecology, described cheatgrass as the “poster child” of invasive species.

“It leaves this really thick layer of dead vegetation that, when we have a fire that comes through … it creates a continuous fire,” Tekiela said.

Steve Meadows, chairman of the initiative’s policy team, described cheatgrass as “the cancer of Wyoming,” though he said neighboring states like Nevada and Utah face more daunting challenges with invasive species.

“We are not in the unfortunate position that other western states are in,” Meadows said. “So I think it’s a very timely thing to be looking at this.”

Though cheatgrass is better known, Wyoming has many other invasive species that people are unaware of, Tekiela said. Leafy spurge, for example, can appear in pastures and harm native plant populations.

Coordination across property lines is essential to solve problems associated with invasive species, Tekiela said.

“There’s a diversity of land ownership in Wyoming,” Tekiela said. “When it comes to plants, they don’t really care about that.”

It’s also important to create a long-term plan to manage the species, Tekiela said.

“Weed management takes time and monitoring, and often adapting, because Mother Nature doesn’t always listen to what we try to do,” Tekiela said.

Gordon said his initiative will try to establish a more thorough plan that goes beyond just spraying chemicals.
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Governor’s initiative aims to rein in invasive species
Governor’s initiative aims to rein in invasive species
A group of state officials, scientists and agricultural experts held its first meeting last week in Lander as part of an initiative to better control invasive weed species like cheatgrass.
A group of state officials, scientists and agricultural experts held its first meeting last week in Lander as part of an initiative to better control invasive weed species like cheatgrass. The group was assembled by Gov. Mark Gordon, who announced the initiative last month. It consists of two teams, one focused on policy and the other focused on the technical side of the issue. Gordon said past efforts to manage invasive species have either relied on protective practices or the use of chemicals. “That’s extraordinarily expensive and somewhat counterproductive,” Gordon said of chemical methods. “Cheatgrass is a huge issue. It actually is one of those things that’s very flammable, and it comes back after (burning) quicker than almost anything else.” Dan Tekiela, a University of Wyoming plant sciences professor and extension specialist of invasive plant ecology, described cheatgrass as the “poster child” of invasive species. “It leaves this really thick layer of dead vegetation that, when we have a fire that comes through … it creates a continuous fire,” Tekiela said. Steve Meadows, chairman of the initiative’s policy team, described cheatgrass as “the cancer of Wyoming,” though he said neighboring states like Nevada and Utah face more daunting challenges with invasive species. “We are not in the unfortunate position that other western states are in,” Meadows said. “So I think it’s a very timely thing to be looking at this.” Though cheatgrass is better known, Wyoming has many other invasive species that people are unaware of, Tekiela said. Leafy spurge, for example, can appear in pastures and harm native plant populations. Coordination across property lines is essential to solve problems associated with invasive species, Tekiela said. “There’s a diversity of land ownership in Wyoming,” Tekiela said. “When it comes to plants, they don’t really care about that.” It’s also important to create a long-term plan to manage the species, Tekiela said. “Weed management takes time and monitoring, and often adapting, because Mother Nature doesn’t always listen to what we try to do,” Tekiela said. Gordon said his initiative will try to establish a more thorough plan that goes beyond just spraying chemicals.



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