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Central Montana District
Release Date: 08/01/14
Contacts: Contact: Jonathan Moor, (406) 538-1943    

BLM partners with Lewistown's gun range to wage war on weeds

(LEWISTOWN, Mont.) – The Bureau of Land Management Central Montana District partnered with the Central Montana Shooting Complex recently, to spray weeds on the grounds of the community’s multi-range facility, resulting in a significant decrease in the weed population.

The gun ranges of the shooting complex were treated for several noxious and nuisance weed species, according to Steve Smith, Weed Coordinator at the BLM Lewistown Field Office.

“We targeted the major high-traffic areas for spotted knapweed, leafy spurge, hounds tongue, black henbane, and several different species of thistle,” said Smith. “We focused on the hand gun bays, the cowboy action range, all coulees and draws on the rifle range, and the sporting clay range.”

The Central Montana Shooting Complex has over 1,000 memberships, and about two-thirds to three-quarters of those memberships are family memberships with two or more shooters, according to Dale Pfau, CMSC Treasurer.

With a significant portion of the Central Montana population represented in the CMSC membership, the partnership provided an excellent opportunity for weed education, explained Geoff Beyersdorf, the Field Manager of the Lewistown Field Office.

A number of CMSC members check the accuracy of their firearms and hone their shooting skills at the range prior to heading out for public lands to hunt the bountiful variety of prey found in Montana. Killing weeds at the range reduces the possibility of seeds spreading to BLM managed land by attaching to shooters’ boots, clothing, rifle slings, hunting gear or vehicles.

Daily activities of BLM employees in Central Montana are shaped by the priorities set at the local, state and national level. “Working with the Central Montana Shooting Complex meets several of our priorities,” said Adam Carr, Supervisory Natural Resource Specialist at the BLM Lewistown Field Office.

According to District Manager Stan Benes, “developing solid quality relationships with the community we serve and live in, and improving the health of the land are priorities for the BLM Central Montana District.”

The collaborative weed spraying effort sprung to life when Central Montana Shooting Complex Board of Directors Member Paul Harris contacted Carr for ideas about dealing with the CMSC’s weeds. As Carr consulted with Smith, the frequent leadership messages of Benes and Beyersdorf about the importance of community support arose in the conversation. Enhancing an outdoor venue one in every three Lewistown area residents are a member of seemed like a good fit for community support, Carr explained. A significant number of BLM Central Montana employees are counted among the Central Montana Shooting Complex membership.

The majority of the herbicide chemicals were obtained from the Central Montana Coop. The weeds were treated with a compound comprised mainly of Aminopyralid Potassium and Metsulfuron-methyl.  According to the agricultural cooperative’s Agronomy Specialist David Philipps, the product used was a user-friendly compound that will not leach into ground water. 

Smith brought BLM spraying equipment to the CMSC weed spraying operation, and was joined by BLM Forester Rich Byron and Rangeland Management Specialist Robert Thompson.

In addition to being concerned about weed control on behalf of the ranchers he serves as a Rangeland Management Specialist, Thompson is a native son of a multi-generation Montana ranching family.

Volunteers from the Central Montana Shooting Complex also included: CMSC President Tom Battrick and his son, CMSC Board Secretary Tom Longshore, and CMSC Member Bruce Larson.  Some additional spraying will occur later this year.


(from left) Bureau of Land Management Central Montana District Forester Rich Byron, Rangeland Management Specialist Robert Thompson, Weed Coordinator Steve Smith and Supervisory Natural Resource Specialist Adam Carr partnered with the Central Montana Shooting Complex to spray weeds on the grounds of the multi-range facility recently.  (BLM Photo by Jonathan Moor)

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Central Montana District   920 Northeast Main St.      Lewistown, MT 59457  

Last updated: 08-01-2014