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"Management Approach for Leafy Spurge Control"

 Andy Canham

Question 1. What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it?

Locating and mapping areas of invasive weed infestations in identified project areas. A major factor in managing non-native invasive weeds is locating and keeping an accurate record of infested areas. This project demonstrates the effectiveness and advantages of completing an inventory of non-native invasive weeds, on public (BLM, SPL, USFS), and private lands in northern Butte and Southern Harding counties located in northwestern South Dakota. This project demonstrates the need for accurate mapping by using GPS locations and managing the data in GIS format. The data can be used to evaluate the success of chemical, mechanical, and biological control.

Question 2. How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?

Invasive weeds are spreading throughout North America at astonishing rates, recent figures released by the Bureau of Land Management indicate 6,000 acres are lost daily. To adequately address this enormous problem, all facets of today's society need accurate information on this escalating problem. Quantifying location, amount, and degree of infestation has been a large problem in securing recourses for year to year control activities. Until recently the day to day use of GPS receivers and GIS software was not common. These new technologies together with noxious weed mapping system developed by Montana State University have increased the precision and accuracy of setting a benchmark for future use. All phases of invasive weed management include daily field control activities, management plan development, and securing adequate resources.

The problem is severe, in the Team Leafy Spurge project there is 1,643.22 acres of infestation. Canada thistle accounts for 4.35 acres and leafy spurge infestation is at 1,638.87 acres. The Team Leafy Spurge project area is 24 sq. miles or 15,360 acres. Total infestation of leafy spurge in the project area is over 10% of the total project area. There are also high levels of both leafy spurge and Canada thistle outside this project area. This year the mapping and inventory project surveyed an additional 482 square miles; which identified an additional 1,177.96 acres of invasive species on this watershed. This included 391.42 acres of leafy spurge, and 229.93 acres of Canada thistle in Harding County west of highway 85. In Butte County 427.91 acres of Canada thistle were inventoried west of highway 85 and 122.5 acres of Canada thistle and 6.2 acres of musk thistle were mapped east of highway 85. The riparian areas of both the south and north forks of the Moreau are also heavily infested with both Canada thistle and leafy spurge.

In some sections there is almost a 100% loss of forage production because of the high infestation levels of leafy spurge. This equates to lost revenue in the farm and ranch community because of grazing unit losses. We are also loosing bio-diversity in native grasslands because of the spread of invasive non-native vegetation. Wildlife species such as the sage grouse are being negatively impacted because of the loss of native vegetation. If this loss continues this species in South Dakota may be listed as T & E in the near future. Since winters are severe in the northern plains loss of native grasses and forbes could also negatively effect wintering big game herds because of the loss of critical winter feed.

Question 3. How does it relate to the National Program(s) and National Program Component(s)?

A: Map and identify an additional 482 square miles of the Moreau River area east of Highway 85.
B: Identify and map areas for various IPM methods such as aerial or ground chemical applications, mechanical control, and biological control release sites.
C: Identify, map, and import into a database all bio-release sites for Moreau River Committee.
D: Cooperation and support from private landowners, and public land management agencies. Comprehensive database of lands surveyed on both public and private lands.
E: Extremely accurate (1-5 meter) land information system (LIS) of the project area and the Moreau River drainage.
F: Ability to share data with all the public land management agencies to facilitate Best Management Practices (BMP). All land management agencies and contractors are using Trimble GPS, and Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) GIS software.

Question 4. What was your most significant accomplishment this past year?

A major factor in managing non-native invasive weeds is locating and keeping an accurate record of infested areas. This project demonstrates the effectiveness and advantages of completing an inventory of non-native invasive weeds, on public (BLM, SPL, USFS), and private lands in northern Butte and Southern Harding counties located in northwestern South Dakota. This year the mapping and inventory project surveyed an additional 482 square miles; which identified an additional 1,177.96 acres of invasive species on this watershed. The data can be used to evaluate the success of chemical, mechanical, and biological control and properly allocate the resources needed to address the problem.

Question 5. Describe your major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.

Complete inventory of noxious weeds on the riparian and upland areas of the project area including: the North and South Moreau River drainage, South Grand River, and the East Short Pines area. Implement BMP with chemical, prescribed fire, and bio-control methods to improve native range conditions. Evaluate control methods and formulate control activities to best utilize available resources to achieve desired results. Increasing the awareness and understanding of the degree of spread of evasive weeds and the urgency needed to combat the problem. Evaluate CIR data with GPS mapping techniques as a technology for inventory of invasive species.

Question 6. What do you expect to accomplish year by year, over the next three years?

The Bureau of Land Management field office has access to all data base files and all GIS data. The Harding County Weed and Pest Office has been updated with detailed mapping and spreadsheet data of noxious weed inventory by section, range, and township. School and Public Lands has data base information and all GIS coverage's available as mapping is completed. Interested private landowners have received detailed GIS application maps identifying infestations on their lands. United States Forest Service field office in Camp Crook as access to data base information and GIS applications. When is the technology likely to become available to the end user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? As the project moves forward all players will have access to detailed maps and GIS data. What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption durability of the technology? Software that is being used is standard for the industry, Trimble and ESRI hardware and software are the standard in the industry and are available and being used by all agencies involved.

Question 7. What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology?

Presentations were given to Harding, Butte, and Perkins Counties identifying infestation levels, and locations of invasive vegetation on lands within the project area. Presentations of survey and GIS technology were given to La Creek Weed Management Committee Bennett County, SD; Cheyenne River Weed Management Project, New Castle, WY and Hot Springs, SD; French Creek Weed Management Project, Isabel, SD; Butte County Conservation District, Belle Fourche, SD; Grand River Weed Management Project, Bison, SD; Musselshell River Weed Management, Roundup, SD. Information was given to the State Weed Commission in South Dakota concerning GPS & GIS techniques utilized in this joint project. Meeting with the Bureau of Reclamation in Colorado concerning this mapping project and the incorporation of color infrared aerial photography to inventory invasive species.

Question 8. List your most important publications in the popular press (no abstracts) and presentations to non-scientific organizations, and articles written about your work (NOTE: this does not replace your peer-reviewed publications which are listed below).

None.

Question 9. Scientific publications.

None.

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