Invasive weeds such as medusahead rye, ventenata and cheatgrass have severely damaged millions of acres of productive rangeland in the United States and on tribal reservations, including the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation in central Oregon. These weeds take over productive rangeland from beneficial native plants, reducing forage for wildlife and cattle. The reduction in native forages costs cattle producers, who are forced to feed more hay to make up for the lack of forage production on rangelands.
These weeds also provide organic fuel for fires. Range fires, which used to be rare, are now common from early summer to late fall. Controlling the spread of fire and invasive species that threaten tribal lands and native ecosystems is a priority for the Warm Springs Tribal Council and the Warm Springs reservation.
One of the goals of the Oregon State University Federally Recognized Tribal Extension (FRTEP) program in Warm Springs is to assist the tribe in educating members about invasive species. This management tool is called the Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) program. Early detection of new invasive weed infestations requires education, vigilance and regular monitoring of the managed area and surrounding ecosystem.
In 2018, OSU Extension livestock specialist Scott Duggan organized an invasive species workshop in Warm Springs, which included invasive weed identification, safe handling of pesticides, how to read a pesticide label and correct techniques for using personal protective equipment. Community members could bring their own sprayer or use the sprayers provided. Attendees filled the sprayers with water and practiced spraying the ground in order to learn correct application techniques. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service funded the workshop.
According to post-workshop surveys, attendees reported a 73.3% increase in “good practices to effectively use minimal amounts of herbicide.” Attendees also indicated a 107.7% increase in “understanding how to accurately calibrate equipment.” Most importantly, there was a 56% increase in their ability to “identify invasive weeds.” Workshop participants indicated they were going to use this new information to control weeds on 2,115.5 acres. This weed control project would help protect an estimated 10,010 acres of tribal lands threatened by invasive weeds in 2018.