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CE to apply herbicide at Saylor Creek range

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The 366th Civil Engineer Squadron will be conducting an aerial herbicide application on Saylor Creek Bombing Range to reduce cheatgrass.

From Sept. 11 to 22, approximately 3,200 acres of Air Force land in Owyhee County will be sprayed with the herbicide imazapic. This herbicide is effective in reducing the growth of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) - an invasive grass that has been destructive towards native vegetation and has contributed to catastrophic range fires. The herbicide works by killing newly sprouted cheatgrass plants in the fall and spring after application.

Sagebrush and native bunchgrasses on Saylor Creek Range have been replaced with cheatgrass and other weeds following wildfires. Cheatgrass carries fire and results in larger, faster spreading fires that are harder to contain and control. The goal of the project is to remove cheatgrass, which will result in the protection of sagebrush stands and will aid in the recovery of native vegetation on Saylor Creek Bombing Range. As a result, sage-grouse in the area would benefit from this project.

Approximately four ounces of imazapic will be mixed with seven gallons of water for each acre sprayed. C-130H Hercules military aircraft from the 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Base, Ohio, will do the spraying. The specially equipped C-130H is a large, four-engine turbo-prop powered, aircraft that flies low, 100-150 feet above ground level, during a spray pass. The 910th AW has been conducting aerial spraying missions since World War II and routinely flies sorties to control disease vectors (such as mosquitoes or biting flies) or vegetation and pests of vegetation on Department of Defense installations.

The 3,200 acres being sprayed are portions of Township 7S, Range 8E. Weather conditions pending, spraying will be done between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. each day. Imazapic is of very low toxicity to humans and animals. Imazapic is relatively non-toxic after short term inhalation or short term skin contact. It may cause slight, but temporary, irritation of the eyes and may cause slight irritation to the skin. People should remain clear of the spray block during the application and for 12 hours afterward.

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