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Montana State, partners in 6 states consider converting invasive plants to fuel
Date:10/7/2010

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Invasive plants make life tougher for farmers and ranchers who live in the six headwater states of the Missouri River Basin, so why not turn the plants into fuel and make some money at the same time?

Russian olive and saltcedar alone could supply biomass far into the future, according to weed experts throughout the region.

Converting invasive plants to fuel is an intriguing idea that's being investigated by partners in a regional project headed by the Center for Invasive Plant Management (CIPM) at Montana State University and the Missouri River Watershed Coalition, said project director Liz Galli-Noble, also CIPM director.

The CIPM and MSU were recently awarded $1 million from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Conservation Innovation Grant program, to develop innovative ideas for managing invasive plants and work with public and private partners in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming Colorado and Nebraska. Out of 230 grant proposals submitted and 61 grants awarded for conservation work, MSU's tied for the largest.

Invasive plants can be ornamental plants that escaped from the garden, fast-growing non-native plants that were intentionally brought to the region to stabilize soils or river banks, or strange-looking weeds that continuously spread from other states and countries. But Galli-Noble said they all can cause very serious ecological and economic problems in the western United States. She added that their prevention and control are crucial management issues in the Missouri River Watershed.

Dense invasive plant infestations choke river systems; restrict access for irrigation, wildlife and recreation; reduce water quality and quantity; and degrade or eliminate habitat for wildlife and livestock.

The six states in the upper Missouri watershed contain hundreds of thousands of tons of invasive plant biomass, Galli-Noble estimated. The entire river is 2,540 miles long a
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Contact: Evelyn Boswell
evelynb@montana.edu
406-994-5135
Montana State University
Source:Eurekalert

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