Cattle and drought tackle invasive weed

HOOPER, Utah (ABC4 News) – It’s hard to find any positive impact when it comes to drought conditions, but at Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area, drought paired with some hungry livestock is paying off in a fight against an invasive weed.

Phragmites covered more than 7,000 acres at Ogden Bay, but this summer has been a success in clearing out the wetlands. Phragmites flourishes in marsh areas grow up 15 feet high and can spread very quickly. 

“It has no wildlife value whatsoever. The seeds are too small for animals to eat and it grows too tall and too thick for anything to nest in,” Rich Hansen, the Division of Wildlife Resources, Ogden Bay manager said.

The invasive weed chokes out all native plants and grasses and is often costly to fight. Hansen says it costs about $50 per acre to spray the weed from the air and $150 to mow or roll it out per acre on the ground. Hansen has a farming background, though, and always like to utilize cattle grazing, especially because it’s free. 

“Phragmites is the highest protein vegetation out here, and during the growing season the cattle are selecting that over other vegetation types,” said Hansen.

The weather pattern this year allowed for major progress.

“As dry as it was, the cattle were able to get to places they’ve never been. They’ve been out here six or seven summers, we keep increasing the numbers and the intensity, this year they covered thousands of acres, ” said Hansen. 

For more about the invasive grass: https://wildlife.utah.gov/habitat/ans/phragmites.php

PHOTOS: The Story in the Making: Livestock help fight invasive plant species

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