Each year, millions of dollars are spent controlling invasive species in Wyoming. Just about every agency you can think of is involved – from local weed and pest districts, to the Department of Game and Fish, and even the Bureau of Land Management. Many people see their efforts as an important way to protect Wyoming’s diversity. But others worry that removing invasives could sometimes do more harm than good. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service and other agencies are trying to once again make room for native vegetation along riverbanks in the Bighorn Basin.
Amy Anderson with the Game and Fish Department is helping coordinate the effort. She says Russian olive trees and other non-native plants were introduced in the 1800s, and they’ve choked out native vegetation and degraded soil and water quality.
She says they’ve made progress removing the invasive plants from various creeks, but there’s a lot more work to be done.
Stakeholders in the Rocky Mountain region are in unanimous agreement about what needs to be done about invasive plant species. That’s according to a new study published in the journal Bioscience.
They are common invaders—cheat grass, leafy spurge, salt cedar, yellow toadflax and spotted knapweed. Project leader and UW professor Edward Barbier says that what sometimes begin as attractive lawn shrubs purchased from local nurseries can escape, and proliferate, taking over land, choking out native plants and providing less than ideal grazing material for livestock.
Starting next year, all boats that enter Wyoming will have to be inspected, to make sure they’re not carrying any aquatic invasive species.
Until now, boats had to be inspected if they passed by an open inspection station, or if they had been in a body of water that was known to host invasive species. But Beth Bear with the Game and Fish Department says under that system, many boats went un-checked.
Bear says Game and Fish is trying to make it easy for boat owners to comply with the new rules.