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Guest Opinions

Invasive species

Written by Howard Cooper

To the Editor:

I’m writing in response to your article in the Sept. 17 paper titled “Invasive Species: Weed and Pest Works to Control Cheatgrass Invasion.” We ranch in northwestern Colorado. We have a very serious cheatgrass problem but we are winning the battle.

We took the approach of working closely with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to make sure we could graze cattle at the precise time cheatgrass is at its peak, which is when it is green and before it turns brown. This is proving very effective. If we do intensive grazing and then remove our cattle, the native grasses in our area come in after the cheatgrass is grazed off and are not then grazed by cattle. This enables the native grass to properly reseed.

Secondly, another effective tool is to work with the BLM on areas that are sheep allotments, but do not currently allow cattle to graze after the sheep have left the allotment. Historically, sheep come in and graze before the cheatgrass is mature enough to graze.  The sheep leave the country for higher ground and the cheatgrass flourishes. 

If the BLM would agree on these allotments to allow cattle to come in later and graze the cheatgrass, it will accomplish three things. First, the BLM will make more money, by having two incomes off of the range. Second, the native grasses will return. Finally, if there is a cattle ranch next to a sheep ranch, this allows cheatgrass to be controlled and prevents seeds from blowing over to the cattle ranches.

Best regards,

Howard Cooper

Meeker, Colo.