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Dealing with Weeds and Alien Species on Rangelands

Weeds are a silent menace in land management. Often undetected and unnoticed until it's too late, weeds can lead to loss of ecological site productivity, on-site acceleration of erosion, and changes in plant community. The resulting negative changes in wildlife habitat and watershed stability are potentially devastating.

NIFA and a number of its sister agencies, as well as professional societies, have recognized the devastating yet insidious nature of weeds and alien species encroachment. The lay public frequently does not distinguish between an alien and a native plant (or animal) species. Consequently, changes in ecological potential and its ability to support flora and fauna germane to it may be compromised.

For instance, a native, perennial, bunchgrass site in Idaho that has been overtaken by alien, annual grasses such as Cheat grass will have a very different fire frequency (3-5 years as opposed to 30-50 years in the native grass site), very different erosion rates (of a magnitude larger in the encroached site), and very different fauna (migrating sparrows instead of the resident sage grouse).


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