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County to hit leafy spurge hard in key sage grouse acreage

May 19, 2017 - By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

A federal grant will permit the Fremont County Weed and Pest Control District to focus on an invasive weed in the Government Draw area east of Lander this summer.

Weed and Pest will use airplanes to find concentrations of leafy spurge in the area described as "ground zero for sage grouse" by district assistant supervisor Nancy Pieropan.

The agency has received a $200,000 grant to survey the land and plans to treat 3,000 acres each year until 2020.

Pieropan said the treatments should help "make sure those (grouse) populations are well supported."

Such surveys typically have been done by truck in the past, and Pieropan said the aerial survey will help prevent disturbance of the landscape.

"It's not a wilderness area, but it's primitive," she said.

Because the comprehensive survey will help formulate a strategy for fighting leafy spurge, it's also seen as a cost-effective way to battle the invasive species while limiting "non-target damage."

"This survey will definitely pay for itself," said supervisor Aaron Foster, who's expecting the first round of treatment to be under way this September.

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