The Wildfire and Weed Cycle – What We Know About Slowing the Growth of Both

Thanks to Justin Fritscher of the NRCS for this great information! Out West, wildfires and weeds are closely linked. The spread of invasive grasses is leading to more frequent and intense wildfires. These invasive grasses degrade the health of native rangelands, which threatens both wildlife and rural ways of life. An estimated 100 million acres of land – both public and private – have some degree of infestation by invasive grasses, such as cheatgrass, medusahead rye and others. In the Great Basin, cheatgrass dominates up to 70 million acres. Ranchers, land managers, nonprofits and government agencies are working together to combat invasives. And for ranchers, a number of options are available for fighting their spread on your land. Here is what we know about invasives and how to combat them: 1. Cheatgrass is highly flammable, and it’s altering the fire cycle in the West. It uses a “get rich fast” approach of shallow roots, focusing efforts on producing seeds. After a fire, cheatgrass can out compete native plants like sagebrush, which greatly impacts the ecosystem. Cheatgrass is native to the Eurasian steppe and has now become one of the dominant grasses across much of the West. 2. Emerging studies show that fighting invasive grasses — while expensive — saves money in the long run for ranchers. Through treatment, native plants can rebound, which provide higher-value forage for livestock. The best return on investment for ranchers i

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