Montana Geographic Names Advisor

Geographic Name Change Request

Cheatgrass Hill
Ravalli County, Montana

Status = Denied

Description slope, approximately 50 acres, located between South Swamp Creek and Pine Hollow, just N of the W end of Sunset Bench
Location 46°29'09''N, 114°03'54''W
PLSS Location Sec 36, T9N, R20W and Sec 2, T8N, R20W
Proposal new name for an unnamed feature
Proponent Gregory Johnson; Stevensville, Montana
Administrative area none
Previous BGN Action none
See also
Local Usage None found
Published None found
This proposal is to apply the new name Cheatgrass Hill to an unnamed slope of approximately 50 acres in size in Ravalli County. Cheatgrass is a type of invasive grass that is found on the feature and which is often referred to as “the invader that won the west.” An annual grass, it forms tufts up to two feet tall with leaves and sheaths that are covered in short, soft hairs.

The feature lies near the southern border of the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The project leader of the refuge responded to a request for an opinion on the proposed name, stating “cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is a highly invasive annual bunchgrass that can readily outcompete native grass and forbs …. Cheatgrass is extremely difficult to control and once established changes ecosystems including fire regimes. Lee Metcalf NWR spends approximately $80,000 annually on the eradication of noxious and invasive vegetation, including cheatgrass. It is extremely discouraging to review a proposal that if approved, would elevate the name of one of the exotic weed species. We therefore strongly recommend denial of the proposed name.” According to GNIS, there are no other features in Montana with the word “Cheatgrass” in their name.

The State Names Authority contacted the Ravalli County government for an opinion, but did not receive a response. The SNA noted that the slope was near private homes and attempted to contact local landowners for an opinion. The SNA also attempted to contact the proponent to suggest he gather support from his neighbors. Citing the lack of support from the FWS and no response from the proponent or other landowners, the SNA recommends disapproval of the name.

The Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho and the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, both of which are Federally recognized, were contacted for an opinion. The Nez Perce Tribe responded that they would defer to the local tribe and did not provide an opinion. The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) responded that they would forward the request to their cultural committee but no further communication was received. A follow-up request for comment did not yield any response so it is presumed the CSKT does not have an opinion.

Montana Geographic Names Advisor Recommendation - Oppose (Wednesday, February 8, 2012)
Domestic Names Committee Decision Date - Thursday, February 9, 2012
Domestic Names Committee Discussion - A motion was made and seconded not to approve this name, citing the negative recommendations of the Montana State Names Authority and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Vote: 13 in favor
0 against
0 abstentions

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