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Practitioner Insights into Weed Management on California’s Rangelands and Natural Areas


Working rangelands and natural areas span diverse ecosystems and face both ecological and economic threats from weed invasion. Restoration practitioners and land managers hold a voluminous cache of place-based weed management experience and knowledge that has largely been untapped by the research community. We surveyed 260 California rangeland managers and restoration practitioners to investigate invasive and weedy species of concern, land management goals, perceived effectiveness of existing practices (i.e., prescribed fire, grazing, herbicide use, and seeding), and barriers to practice implementation. Respondents identified 196 problematic plants, with yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis L.) and medusahead (Elymus caput-medusae L.) most commonly listed. Reported adoption and effectiveness of weed management practices varied regionally, but the most highly rated practice in general was herbicide use; however, respondents identified considerable challenges including nontarget effects, cost, and public perception. Livestock forage production was the most commonly reported management goals (64% of respondents), and 25% of respondents were interested in additional information on using grazing to manage invasive and weedy species; however, 19% of respondents who had used grazing for weed management did not perceive it to be an effective tool. Across management practices, we also found common barriers to implementation, including operational barriers (e.g., permitting, water availability), potential adverse impacts, actual effectiveness, and public perception. Land manager and practitioner identified commonalities of primary weeds, management goals, perceived practice effectiveness, and implementation barriers across diverse bioregions highlight major needs that could be immediately addressed through management–science partnerships across the state’s expansive rangelands and natural areas.

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Funding was provided in part via the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR). The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of DPR, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. We are thankful to the project technicians and interns who helped with data collection and entry, as well as our survey beta testers. We appreciate project workshop sponsor support from Alligare, California Beef Cattle Improvement Association, California Invasive Plant Council, California Native Grasslands Association, Dow AgroSciences, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. We are also grateful to the local University of California Cooperative Extension advisors who assisted with hosting the workshop series Morgan Doran, David Lile, Rebecca Ozeran, Devii Rao, Matthew Shapero, and Jeff Stackhouse. Lastly, we owe a debt of gratitude to all of the workshop, survey, and interview participants who willingly shared their knowledge and time with us.

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Correspondence to Leslie M. Roche.

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Schohr, T.K., Gornish, E.S., Woodmansee, G. et al. Practitioner Insights into Weed Management on California’s Rangelands and Natural Areas. Environmental Management 65, 212–219 (2020).

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  • Invasive plants
  • Livestock grazing
  • Herbicide
  • Seeding
  • Prescribed fire
  • California