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Cheatgrass spraying begins in Wyoming-Colorado wildfire area

June 23, 2021 GMT

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has begun efforts to control an invasive grass in the area of a massive wildfire last fall in Wyoming and Colorado.

A helicopter began spraying herbicide Monday to reduce cheatgrass in burned areas of Medicine Bow National Forest. Spraying will continue for about two months, forest officials said.

Cheatgrass is a nonnative species that can proliferate in disturbed environments and burns readily, destroying sagebrush and other native plants.

Previous use of herbicide has successfully controlled cheatgrass, Forest Service rangeland management specialist Jackie Roaque said in a statement.

“We are optimistic that there will be the same success with this project and at an even larger scale than in the past,” Roaque said.

Forest managers plan to treat about 14 square miles (37 square kilometers) of areas mainly in Wyoming but also Colorado that burned in the Mullen Fire. The wildfire charred 276 square miles (716 square kilometers) of southern Wyoming and northern Colorado in 2020.

The fire damaged or destroyed dozens of cabins and other structures from September until snows in late October. It was among Wyoming’s biggest wildfires in recent memory.