Leafy spurge is an invasive noxious weed, which by definition means it is inordinately difficult to control. The objective of this report is to present the results of focus group meetings and personal interviews with ranchers, local decision makers, and public land managers to discover strategies to improve leafy spurge management. Participants in the interviews and focus group meetings managed property in Fallon, Carter, and Wibaux Counties of Montana; Golden Valley, Bowman, Billings, and Slope Counties of North Dakota; Harding County of South Dakota; and Crook County of Wyoming. Ranchers and local decision makers believe that leafy spurge control must become more proactive rather than reactive; current strategies are largely reactive. Interviews with ranchers and local decision makers revealed that a considerable gap in understanding how to control leafy spurge exists between researchers and those attempting to combat the weed. Interviewers often mentioned that they have been unable to eradicate leafy spurge, which indicates that the current mind set of ranchers and land managers needs to change to one focusing more on controlling and managing leafy spurge rather than eradication. Specific recommendations would include 1) reducing the current levels of herbicide application rates - which are often two to three times higher than rates recommended by weed scientists, 2) must appreciate that herbicides are but one tool in the battle against leafy spurge, 3) must understand that in many cases eradication of leafy spurge will not be possible - the goal should be trying to control it, and 4) rangeland rental rates need to reflect current levels of weed infestations. Records of weed infestations (e.g., acreage, location, rate of spread, attempts at control) on public lands are woefully inadequate. Cooperation between ranchers, county weed boards, and public land agencies could be improved to enhance the effectiveness of existing control programs. Weed control regardless of land ownership is important for ranchers, absentee landowners, and public agencies to effectively control leafy spurge. In general, ranchers and land managers need to generate a broader base of support for control of leafy spurge, since the weed attacks the entire ecosystem and is not just an agricultural problem.


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