Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
Farmers are struggling to coexist with the overabundance of invasive plants making their way across the Missouri River Basin. The unwanted plants have the potential to cause ecological problems that could become serious economic problems for the agriculture industry. Montana State University’s Center for Invasive Plant Management is leading a pilot program that will try to create fuel out of the invasive plants found in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. The project will focus on converting Russian olive and saltcedar trees, which can negatively affect the local water supply and habitats for local wildlife and livestock, into biofuel. These two trees are present in over a million acres of land in the West. The three-year pilot will also analyze the environmental effects of current plant-controlling methods and create a strategy to communicate effective techniques and approaches to managing invasive plant species. The CIPM recently received a $1 million federal grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to fund this pilot project.