The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), under a Shared Stewardship Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), agreed in June 2019 to pursue an effort to meaningfully address the large-scale infestation of invasive annual grasses on western forests and rangelands. The spread of invasive annual grasses – such as cheatgrass, medusahead and ventenata – is causing major damage to western working lands. To date, many control efforts have been reactive, focusing on highly infested areas where control is more expensive and has a lower likelihood of success.
One product of this effort is a new toolkit for land managers working to combat the spread of invasive annual grasses in the West. The toolkit is comprised of three elements:
• A roadmap for invasive grass management in the West, with new best management practices for the identification, protection, and expansion of “core” areas – regions with relatively low, or no, annual grass invasion;
• Case studies highlighting the application of these practices in Idaho and Wyoming; and
• A new geospatial data layer (which uses analytical tools to compile existing federal data) to help state and local managers assess invasive annual grasses within their jurisdictions, while also offering opportunities to identify new cross-boundary collaborative projects.
The roadmap and data layer are designed for easy integration into local management plans and can be tailored by state and local managers to reflect local data, knowledge, capacities and priorities.