Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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How to Beat Back a Weed to Get Better Forage and Wildlife Habitat

Like almost every grazier, Dee (DeWitt) Morris has a problem weed. For him and his Mountain Springs Ranch in Wyoming, it’s cheatgrass, an annual grass that can out-compete and eliminate nutritious native forages for livestock and wildlife, and disrupt processes that create healthy soils. And the problem, left unmanaged only gets worse with time. Cheatgrass is highly flammable, helping wildfires spread more rapidly, and once the fire has passed, cheatgrass aggressively recolonizes burned areas, setting up the potential for a new and dangerous fire cycle.

“Cheatgrass is a threat to our way of life in Wyoming,” says Jennifer Hayward, District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pinedale, Wyoming. She was one of Dee’s partners helping him solve his weed problem. In this 3:37 minute video, Dee and Jennifer describe how they worked together, along with the Sage Grouse Initiative, Wyoming Game and Fish, and Sublette County Weed and Pest, to put together and begin to implement a plan to reduce cheatgrass.

What Can You Do With This?

Say you don’t have cheatgrass, and you’re not grazing large western landscapes, what does this have to do with you?

Well, if you’ve got a plant pest you’re trying to manage, or you’ve got wildlife habitat that you’re trying to maintain or improve as part of improving soil health and forage for your livestock, you can use Dee’s example of reaching out and working with others to find a solution. You can start by contacting your local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office. Find yours here. They can provide technical and financial assistance to graziers who want to combat invasives and improve plant diversity on their land. Your local Soil and Water Conservation District office is another great resource (find an office here), and don’t forget your Extension Specialists who are a wealth of knowledge. No matter who you reach out to, tell them what your goals are and ask them for suggestions and resources that can help you get there.

And always remember that people are different. So if the first person you try doesn’t have the answers you need, don’t give up on humanity. See who else is out there for you.

And hey – On Pasture and our community is always here too. If you need a topic covered, let me know and I’ll get on it. If you have suggestions, share them in the comments below.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. It doesn’t say anything about what they did. I’m pretty sure anybody who would bother to watch this already knows cheatgrass is bad.

  2. I’d be interested in knowing the details of how they weakened cheat grass and encouraged native bunchgrasses or other vegetation.

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