Controlling Invasive Plant Species and Restoring Ecosystem Integrity and Landscape Connectivity
Addressing invasive plant species is typically a major component of many of the proposed conservation actions with WLCI partners. WLCI LPDTs are focused on the most aggressive or threatening invasive plants, which include cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), toadflax (Linaria spp.), leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula), salt cedar (Tamarisk spp.), and perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium). Particular attention is given to invasive plants in sensitive areas, such as crucial winter habitats, migration transition areas, riparian corridors, and areas adjacent to rare and endemic plant species. Invasive plants near wilderness areas and important locations, such as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, are also a priority. Invasive plant species just entering the WLCI area are also targeted if they pose a risk. Species such as salt cedar, cheatgrass, and knapweeds are becoming more densely populated and expanding their distribution. There have been numerous recent studies emphasizing the importance of controlling these species as an effective approach to address prolonged droughts and climate change. 
 
A focus group was formed by LPDT members to develop strategies to evaluate salt cedar distribution and treatment needs from Seedskadee NWR to Flaming Gorge. This effort aims to strategically inventory, prioritize, plan, implement, rehabilitate, and monitor multiple phased control projects. WLCI monitoring indicates that this approach is successfully controlling salt cedar and Russian olive while promoting sustainable native riparian tree and shrub communities along stream and river corridors. Since 2008, WLCI has funded numerous projects designed to control or remove salt cedar in the WLCI area. These have predominantly been associated with larger lower elevation streams and rivers in Lincoln, Sweetwater, and Carbon counties. Geographic areas to control salt cedar and Russian olive are based on assessments and surveys by WLCI partners and resource specialists. In another WLCI area, an invasive species task force was organized to address cheatgrass at landscape scales. Cheatgrass has become the most widespread problematic invasive plant affecting sage-grouse core habitats and crucial habitats for elk (Cervus canadensis), mule deer, pronghorn and numerous other non-game species. This task force is assessing the distribution of cheatgrass, prioritizing treatment locations, and actively engaged with its partners to control cheatgrass. Post-treatment monitoring information is being used to identify the most effective methods to control cheatgrass.