Medicine Bow Disasters

September 2nd, 2019 Multiband Tasseled cap Landsat 8 OLI image over Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. Dark blue represents higher values of wetness, dark red represents higher values of combined green, red, and blue light reflectance and cyan represents higher values of greenness and wetness. Tasseled cap wetness was one of the most important predictor variables used in machine learning models to detect invasive cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum).

Keywords: Spectral index, remote sensing

Utilizing Remote Sensing to Evaluate Herbicide Treatment Efficacy on Invasive Cheatgrass in Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming

The Medicine Bow National Forest (MBNF) consists of approximately 1,383,790 acres of forested land, grassland, and sagebrush steppe in southeastern Wyoming. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), an invasive plant species in the Western US, occurs in the grasslands throughout MBNF. Cheatgrass is known to rapidly colonize disturbed sites and dramatically alter historic fire regimes and nutrient/water dynamics as well as outcompete native plant species that are important forage for mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and elk (Cervus canadensis). In 2012, the Squirrel Creek Fire burned approximately 10,587 acres of land within MBNF, exacerbating the spread of cheatgrass. In 2015, the Wyoming Ecological Forecasting DEVELOP team identified areas of high cheatgrass abundance within the fire boundary in order to guide US Forest Service (USFS) herbicide spraying efforts to reduce cheatgrass in 2016. This research used Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) and Sentinel-2 MultiSpectral Instrument (MSI) data to create a 2019 probabilistic cheatgrass occurrence map. This map allowed an analysis of the effectiveness of aerial spraying to inform future land management techniques for the USFS. Based on the results of the Generalized Linear Model, we found that treated areas decreased in cheatgrass cover by 36% while untreated areas increased in cheatgrass cover by 6%, suggesting that herbicide treatment has been effective.

Colorado — Fort Collins
Fall 2019
USDA, US Forest Service, Laramie Ranger District of Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland
NASA Earth Observations
Landsat 8 OLI
Sentinel-2 MSI
Chiara Phillips (Project Lead)
Stacy Armbruster
Forrest Corcoran
Byron Schuldt
Dr. Paul Evangelista (Colorado State University, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory)
Dr. Catherine Jarnevich, (United States Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center)
Peder Engelstad (Colorado State University, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory)
Nicholas Young (Colorado State University, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory)
Tony Vorster (Colorado State University, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory)