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News Release

Cheatgrass Challenge Application Period Deadline Approaching

Contact:
Mindi Rambo, Public Affairs Specialist, 208.378.5720

BOISE, ID, April 1, 2021 – Last summer, a partnership of public and private agencies and organizations kicked off an effort dubbed “The Cheatgrass Challenge.” The Challenge began with six projects in “core areas” to protect healthy rangeland habitat and to restore moderately infested habitat to its native perennial state. This year, the Challenge strategy is to build on those projects, expanding areas of protection and pushing into moderately to highly infested areas of invasive grasses to “grow the core areas.”

Applications for Cheatgrass Challenge projects will be accepted through April 16. Information on how to apply can be found on the Cheatgrass Challenge web page.

All partners and producers who are interested in submitting a proposal are encouraged to speak to their local Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist.

Challenge Background

Although several invasive annual grasses (including cheatgrass, ventenata and medusa head) are a threat to Idaho rangelands, cheatgrass in particular is a two-pronged economic threat. Cheatgrass has only minimal forage value and only for a short period, yet it outcompetes the native perennial grasses needed by livestock and wildlife. Secondly, it doubles the risk of wildfire on a piece of land. Economically, Idaho cannot afford to ignore the challenge posed by invasive annual grasses.

The Partners

Cheatgrass Challenge partners are committing time, resources and personnel to help landowners, leaseholders and public land managers tackle this ever-growing threat to Idaho’s rangelands. In addition, NRCS Idaho has committed $500,000 in Environmental Quality Incentives Program funds to the Challenge in Fiscal year 2020 and an additional $300,000 for Fiscal Year 2021. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation committed $400,000  in Fiscal Year 2020 with the potential for additional matching funds at a later point. Other partner funds may also be used for projects that qualify under those funds’ particular requirements.

The federal partners are the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The State of Idaho is represented by the Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation (OSC), Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and Idaho Department of Lands (IDL). Private partners include the Idaho Rangeland Conservation Partnership, the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and Working Lands for Wildlife. The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) is a supporting partner.

The Cheatgrass Challenge will hopefully not remain simply an Idaho effort. The Western Governors Association’s Western Invasive Species Council (WISC) is closely watching what Idaho does. In addition, NRCS Wyoming is establishing its version of the Challenge and sharing technical assistance with NRCS Idaho. If the Cheatgrass Challenge’s efforts are successful, the partners hope our successes can be duplicated across state borders.

Learn More

To learn more about the Challenge and to download information on best management practices, visit www.id.nrcs.usda.gov and click on the Cheatgrass Challenge button.

Public Affairs Contacts:

U.S. Bureau of Land Management: Jennifer Jones, jenniferjones@blm.gov
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service: Mindi Rambo, mindi.rambo@usda.gov
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ally Turner, ally_turner@fws.gov
Idaho State Department of Agriculture, Chanel Tewalt, chanel.tewalt@isda.idaho.gov
Idaho Department of Lands, Sharla Arledge, sarledge@idl.idaho.gov


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