(Fremont County, WY) – The Government Draw Invasives Project is a collaborative project to control high priority weeds and manage the impacts of leafy spurge and cheatgrass in the Government Draw area, south of Lander, WY. The project area includes approximately 215,000 acres of native sagebrush habitat that is under attack by invasive plants.
The project was developed by the Fremont County Weed and Pest Control District in 2014 to help improve sage grouse habitat and mule deer winter range, as well as increase forage productivity and diversity for other animal species that depend on the area. A substantial grant from the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust in 2017 expanded opportunities to include aerial herbicide treatments.
From 2014 through 2020 the project has involved the mapping, monitoring, and treatment of more than 15,000 acres of invasive plants, with a total cost of $482,000.00.
“The goal for this project was to halt the expansion of leafy spurge, cheatgrass, and other invasive weeds within the region’s intact sagebrush steppe ecosystems, while driving the impacted range towards more desirable, resilient, and weed resistant ecological condition” – Aaron Foster, Fremont County Weed and Pest Supervisor
The project includes 16 agency and private landowner partners. These partners share the burden of funding the program as well as developing management strategies. This successful collaboration will serve as a template for future large-scale invasive management projects within Fremont County, WY.
Current monitoring data suggests that treatments were successful in reducing cheatgrass and leafy spurge infestations and their impacts to the sagebrush steppe ecosystem. Continued monitoring, herbicide treatment schedules, and data analysis will be on-going for many years to come, in an effort to protect this important habitat area from future invasions.
The entire report, with pictures and data analysis, can be read here.