Cheatgrass Increases Fire Risk in Northeast Colorado in 2013
By Casey Matney, CSU Extension
There is an increased risk for wildfires in Northeast Colorado this summer and fall. Cheatgrass, a weedy introduced annual plant, has capitalized on spring moisture while perennial grasses have been much slower to recover following the drought affects from 2012. Visual surveys across rangelands and roadsides this year show that cheatgrass is approximately two times more abundant in 2013, especially in Northeast Colorado. Now that cheatgrass has reached reproductive maturity and has completed its annual life cycle, the litter left behind is dry and very flammable. In addition, growth of warm season broadleaf weeds and grasses among and around cheatgrass plants has begun to peak, which creates high fire fuel loads and an increased risk for the spread of fire when ignited.
Ranchers, farmers, and homeowners should take precautions.
Simply mowing cheatgrass will not eliminate the problem, since cheatgrass is likely to return the following year. For more information on cheatgrass, the fire hazard cheatgrass may pose, and the precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of fire, please visit the following link for CSU Extension fact sheet No. 6.310. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/natres/06310.html
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