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Salmon-Challis resumes aerial herbicide application this fall

Jon Schladen / CC BY 2.0

SALMON, Idaho (KIFI) — The Salmon-Challis National Forest Botany, Invasives and Pollinators Program will resume aerial application of herbicides to treat for noxious weeds in the Tower Creek, Kriley Gulch, and North Fork areas this fall. 

Dates for implementation are dependent on weather conditions and crew availability, but treatments will occur as conditions allow Sep. 26-Nov.4. 

“We have a fairly narrow window for implementation each year, so we want to let our stakeholders, particularly those nearby areas scheduled to be treated, know what to expect,” North Fork District Ranger Chris Waverek said. 

When temperature, wind speed and wind direction are optimal, contracted pilots will spray National Forest System Lands with Milestone and Plateau herbicides. 

“These are some of the newest herbicides available,” Botany, Invasives, and Pollinators Program Manager Diane Schuldt said. “Milestone and Plateau are recognized as having low use rates, little to no toxicity to humans, low toxicity to non-target organisms, and low potential for groundwater contamination.” 

The herbicides are also very effective, with estimated control of both cheatgrass and spotted knapweed above 90 percent. Units sprayed in the lower Fourth of July Creek area in 2021 are a testament.

“Last year’s treatment is likely the most beneficial thing we could have done for bighorn sheep and for wintering deer and elk in these areas,” said Dennis Newman, Regional Wildlife Manager for Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “These animals depend on native bunchgrass communities to survive, and annual grasses and noxious weeds are the single largest threat to these critical habitats in the Salmon Region. From a habitat and rangeland resiliency perspective, the results are pretty amazing.” 

The Salmon-Challis has scheduled two open houses to share the results of their 2021 efforts and to address the concerns of stakeholders well before implementation begins again:

  • 3:00-5:30 p.m. Sep. 7 at the North Fork Firehouse, 2066 Highway 93 N in North Fork, and 
  • 3:00-5:30 p.m. Sep. 8 at the Tower Creek Pyramids Day Use Area, located approximately two miles up Tower Creek Road.

In addition to the open houses, mailers were sent to neighboring landowners to alert them to the upcoming project, opportunities to discuss their concerns, and how they can help shape the project. 

In accordance with the environmental impact statement governing the project, contractors will leave a 300-foot buffer when spraying National Forest System Lands. 

With a written request and a map detailing the buffer area, landowners may request that the contractor spray the buffer up to their property line. 

While the Salmon-Challis does not treat private property, the forest does have partners that can assist interested landowners who would like their property sprayed. 

Inquiries about buffer or private land treatment opportunities should be addressed to Waverek at or 208-865-2700.

Additional details on aerial application precautions and technical information can be found on the Salmon-Challis website at

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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