BLM’s Weed Management and Invasive Species Program
Although the BLM participates in the control of large infestations, the agency’s primary focus is providing adequate capability to detect and treat smaller weed infestations in high-risk areas before they have a chance to spread.
As in the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” it is much more cost effective to prevent rather than control large weed infestations. Prevention, early detection, and rapid response are crucial in dealing with the spread of invasive species in order for the BLM to improve and maintain ecosystem health.
The BLM’s cross-cutting Weed Management and Invasive Species Program receives support from a number of BLM programs that are affected by invasive species. These include the BLM’s Rangeland Management, Forestry, Fire Fuels Reduction, Soil, Water, Air and Riparian programs.
The Weed Management and Invasive Species Program is also supported by Congressional mandates for specific initiatives such as salt cedar control; Departmental Invasive Programs such as the Northern Great Plains and the Rio Grande Basin Initiatives; and BLM Initiatives such as Healthy Landscapes. (The BLM’s Grasshopper and Mormon Cricket Program is managed separately and coordinated with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service -APHIS).
An Integrated Management Approach
In treating infestations, the BLM uses an integrated management approach that employs the method or combination of methods that will have the greatest positive effect with the minimum negative environmental impact. The BLM uses biological, mechanical and chemical control methods. It is BLM policy to use chemical pesticides only after considering alternative methods. Volunteers and partners play a significant role in helping land managers remove weeds from public lands.
The BLM implements multiple strategies in combating invasive species. These include BLM’s Partners Against Weeds (PAW) Plan, the Department of the Interior’s Invasive Plant Management Plan, and the National Invasive Species Management Plan. Also, as part of its implementation of the National Fire Plan, the BLM acts to reduce invasive weeds that function as fire fuels and works with partners to enhance native plant restoration.
Cooperative Weed Management Areas
In most cases, the BLM works with county governments, local community governments, and private landowners to detect and treat weed infestations. To leverage funding and share expertise, the BLM partners with more than 50 Coordinated Weed Management Areas (CWMA’s) in the Western United States. CWMA partners include state, federal, county, and private land managers.
The BLM’s Albuquerque Field Office worked with the Cuba and Socorro CWMAs to have aerial treatment of salt cedar expanded onto BLM-managed public lands. The Socorro CWMA acted as fiscal agent in a large spray contract which the BLM participated in for treatment of 200 acres along the Chico Arroyo in northwestern New Mexico. Sharing resources makes fiscal sense as it spreads limited resources so that more is accomplished by working together than could be accomplished working alone.