NOTICE: Starting August 10, 2020 aerial cheatgrass treatments will begin. Weather depending, treatments will take place in the in the following locations in this order: National Elk Refuge, Crystal Butte (near Nelson Drive), East Gros Ventre Butte (along Hwy 89 from the National Museum of Wildlife Art towards Town of Jackson), State Land on East Gros Ventre Butte, Vogel Hill, High School Butte, Boyles Hill, South-facing slopes along Highway 89 (south of town from Smiths towards Hoback Junction), Hoback Junction toward Stinking Springs. This work will take place between August 10-22.
July 14, 2020
Teton County Weed and Pest District (TCWP) is initiating the “Cheatgrass Mitigation Program” starting August 2020 set to treat extensively across the valley. Cheatgrass is a highly invasive non-native annual grass with a quick growing life cycle giving it a competitive advantage over native vegetation. This mitigation program is expansive with the goal of reaching over 7,000 acres next month from Jackson to the Hoback Canyon.
TCWP launched a pilot program in 2017 and covered a little over 300 acres. Following the success of that program, TCWP has put together a comprehensive plan to address the risks of invasive grasses with the support of these partners; Wyoming Game and Fish, Teton Conservation District, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Rocky Mountain Elk Federation, Governor’s Big Game License Coalition, Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, The National Elk Refuge and Bridger-Teton National Forest. With this fleet of partners, the treatment program will cover more ground than ever before and make a significant positive impact on the ecosystem. Aerial application with helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) will allow for uniform coverage, cost-effectiveness and an ecologically sensitive treatment of cheatgrass.
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) germinates in autumn which makes treatment in August imperative. This invasive grass out competes natives and perennial grasses from water and nutrients. This significantly diminishes the quality of wildlife habitat, especially the critical mule deer and bighorn sheep winter range.
Typically this time of year brings with it wildfires, and cheatgrass is a major player. Cheatgrass dries early in the summer making it a serious fire risk, potentially leading to more frequent and larger fires and further habitat loss. As seen last season, a mere lightning strike can ignite an aggressive fire in dry cheatgrass infested lands. An example of this was the fire in early August near the National Museum of Wildlife Art that burned 89 acres.
The proposed treatment areas include: Southern facing slopes in Jackson; Miller Butte on National Elk Refuge, Crystal Butte, High School Butte and hillsides along Highway 89 from the Town of Jackson to Hoback Canyon. These slopes are crucial for winter range and transitional habitat for elk, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.
Letters have been sent to landowners in the mapped regions for treatment, giving residents until August 1st to grant permission to spray on their property. Contact TCWP with any questions or concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will I know when treatment will take place?
You can sign up for text alerts by texting “cheatgrass” to 313131.
Will my entire property be sprayed?
In most cases, no. Cheatgrass is most prominent on steep slopes, and only areas with extensive cheatgrass infestations are targeted for this project.
How close will the helicopter come to my house and/or buildings?
We anticipate a buffer of approximately 300 feet around structures.
Is it safe for animals to graze on treated areas after spraying?
Yes, both herbicides allow for grazing immediately after treatment.
What if I have cheatgrass within 300 feet of my home or buildings?
Steep slopes may be treated by UAV (drone) which has less drift potential and allows for safe treatment closer to buildings. For additional questions about this treatment strategy and timing of this application contact Mark Daluge (direct extension: 307.733.8419 ext. 113).
Should I be inside/close my windows during the application?
Due to the 300 foot buffer, that is not necessary, but you may do so if you so chose. (Don’t forget to text “cheatgrass” to 313131 for treatment area updates.)
How long until I can re-enter the areas that have been treated?
Stay out of treated areas until the spray is dried (time is dependent on weather conditions).
Are these herbicides harmful to people or animals?
When applied according to the EPA approved label (following label rates and mixing/handling/application instructions), there is no known acute or chronic toxicity for either of these herbicides.