Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest proposes treating invasive weeds with aerial application of herbicides

Submitted to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is seeking public comment on a project to authorize the use of aircraft in the treatment of invasive plant populations across National Forest System lands in Nevada. 

The Invasive Plant Control Project Using Aerial Application of Herbicides Project would help facilitate control of rapidly expanding invasive plant populations that outcompete native plant populations and carry fire across the landscape and into rural and urban communities.

“Expanding populations of invasive plants like cheatgrass and medusahead are contributing to very large fast-moving fires we have seen across the state,” said Forest Supervisor Bill Dunkelberger. “The ability to use airplanes, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles for herbicide application will allow us to increase the pace and scale of our work with partners to treat these infestations, reducing wildfire risk and protecting native ecosystems.” 

The purpose of this environmental assessment is to help the forest provide for integrated and timely treatment of invasive plant species by promoting healthy and thriving native plant communities now and into the future. Current ground-based treatment options are limited by reach (hose length), access, topography, and cost. Additional methodologies are needed to address the threat of expanding annual invasive grass and other invasive plant infestations. 

Initial treatments would occur on the Sierra and Elko Fronts that were identified as high-risk landscapes in the USDA Forest Service’s National Wildfire Crisis Strategy. These two areas were chosen based on the potential for wildfire to affect nearby communities, critical infrastructure, public water sources, and Tribal lands. The Sierra Front Landscape is in western Nevada and the Elko Front Landscape is in northeastern Nevada. Treatments outside the high-risk landscapes would focus on recently burned areas to allow native plant species to reestablish without competition from invasive species.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us if we are going to protect some of our most vulnerable communities,” Dunkelberger added. 

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest has invited the Nevada Department of Wildlife, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Nevada Conservation Districts, Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management to participate in the development of the environmental assessment as cooperating agencies. Additionally, the forest is in the process of consulting with tribal governments across Nevada.

The forest has approximately 5.6 million acres in Nevada that lie in 13 counties: Carson City, Clark, Douglas, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Washoe, and White Pine. The presence of invasive, non-native, or state-listed noxious weeds have a high potential to expand on lands within and adjacent to the Forest, degrading desired plant communities valued by local communities.

This initial “scoping period” gives the public a chance to tell the Forest Service what issues and concerns they think should be addressed in the environmental assessment. These comments help the Forest Service determine the extent of analysis necessary for an informed decision on a proposal.

Comments will be accepted for 30 days following the publication of the legal notice in the Reno Gazette Journal which occurred on June 7. Project documents, including Notice of Proposed Action, are available at

Written comments must be submitted to Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Attn: Aerial Application of Herbicide EA, 1200 Franklin Way, Sparks, Nevada, 89431, or hand-delivered during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays. Facsimiles can be sent to 775-355-5399. 

Electronic comments must be submitted in a format such as an email message, pdf, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), or Word (.doc). They can be uploaded to the “Comments/Objection on Project” section of the project website at under “get connected.” Put “Aerial Application of Herbicide EA” into the subject line. 

For more information on this project contact Land Management Planner Jim Winfrey at 775-355-5308 or additional information on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, visit

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