Cheatgrass in the American West.

Editor’s Note

Tens of thousands of invasive species—from cheatgrass, blights, and tamarisk to hogs, fire ants, and boa constrictors—damage natural ecosystems, agricultural systems, human-built infrastructure, and even public health throughout the United States, costing billions of dollars each year.

Weeds illustration

Nonnatives, Invasives, Weeds

Plants as stories of human meddling

The Wyoming census for the plant kingdom is out! Over 2,900 different kinds of vascular plants grow in the wild in Wyoming according to experts at UW’s Rocky Mountain Herbarium. They include more than 2,500 native species along with 372 nonnative ones as of 2018.

Cheatgrass field

Cheatgrass on Fire

The race to save an ecosystem

Locals speculate that Nevada’s largest fire may have started with a Fourth of July firework launched in a canyon. But no one really knows. The 2018 Martin Fire seemed small and innocuous, until a weather cell moved into northern Nevada.

Wildflowers in field

When Natives Persist

One researcher examines how native plants can compete with invasives

In the spring of 2019 Elizabeth Leger drove out from her botany lab at the University of Nevada, Reno to her field site on the western edge of the 435,000 acres burned in the Martin Fire.

Gordon Custer with lab equipment

Looking Underground

Tiny soil organisms may hold the key to managing invasive plants

The four members of Gordon Custer’s research group gather around as he walks through the steps of data collection.

Rainbow over grassy hills

Herbicides in Wildlands

What do we really know about their effects?

As Cara Nelson, a researcher and professor of ecosystem science and restoration at the University of Montana, hiked around Missoula’s foothills, she noticed abundant knapweed and cheatgrass growing amidst native bunchgrasses and wildflowers.

Ventenata in grass field

Early Detection and Rapid Response

Can a highly coordinated team of experts and weed managers stop a new invasive species?

For many westerners, cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is the exemplar invasive weed, well known for thriving in sagebrush landscapes where it crowds out native plants, fuels a devastating fire regime, and threatens wildlife and livestock grazing.

Phragmites in water

Fighting Phragmites

Systematic landscape planning software improves the odds against a despised invasive reed

It’s a hot, sunny day in early April, and I’m out collecting GPS coordinates for stands of wetland vegetation in the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

Chloe Mattilio with drone controls

The Toadflax Needle in the Wilderness Haystack

Using technology to detect and map new invasive species arrivals

The Noxious Weed

Since dalmatian toadflax was introduced in Wyoming, it has checked off all the boxes of an invasive species—it outcompetes native vegetation, reduces biodiversity, and is not palatable for wildlife or livestock.

Kelly Springs

Released to the Wild

Unwanted pets take a toll on ecosystems

Stepping through the tall grass, a family made their way to the edge of Kelly Warm Spring, a geothermal spring with a temperature that hovers around 77 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, in Grand Teton National Park.

Mussels

Cancer to the Rescue?

A potential solution to invasive mussels

One hundred thousand quagga mussels can live in a single square meter, and 450 trillion of them infest Lake Michigan alone.

Christy Bell holding a bee

Unsung Pollinators

Native bees are forgotten in the clamor to save exotic pollinators

Christy Bell rifled through a series of shallow drawers lining the walls of a dark, windowless lab.

A mountain goat peers down from a cliff

To Kill or Not to Kill?

Managing charismatic ungulates in the Tetons

The first time Michael Whitfield saw bighorn sheep in the high country he stood on a ridgeline in the shadow of the Teton Range and watched a group grazing along a plateau.

Animal collage with birds, sagegrouse, biker, windmills, and ungulates

Editor’s Note

Here in the West, we ask a lot of our public lands. As the photo collage on the cover illustrates, we pile demands onto the federal and state lands that surround our communities.

Prairie and dirt road with hills in distance

Federal lands in public hands

The long history of Congressional intent to keep public lands public

Bob Keiter is the Wallace Stegner Professor of Law, University Distinguished Professor, and Director of the Wallace Stegner Center of Land, Resources, and the Environment