Lake Mead Exotic Plant Management Team
Exotic invasive plants are a widespread problem that almost everyone is familiar with. The weeds in your backyard that you pull every weekend are an example. Within the National Park System alone, there are over 2.6 million acres infested with these non-native, invasive plants. They cause numerous problems. They destroy cultural and historical sites, increase fire hazards, deplete natural resources such as water, and they crowd out native vegetation
In 2000, spurred by the Congressional Natural Resource Challenge, the National Park Service acted on a national level in response to the growing invasive plant problem and created the first Exotic Plant Management Teams (EPMTs). Today there are 16 teams that are deployed across the entire country including Hawaii, Alaska & the US Virgin Islands.
For more information on the Exotic Plant Management Teams and invasive plants go to - www.nature.nps.gov/biology/invasivespecies/
The Lake Mead EPMT served as a model for the development of the nationwide EPMT program from 1996 to 2000. Permanent NPS funding was secured for the team in 2002. The team has leveraged this funding by creating partnerships with several federal, state and local partners. After all, these plants know no boundaries. The EPMT has also partnered with the United States Geological Survey to conduct weed control studies to improve effectiveness.
Due to its numerous years in operation and effective control methods, the Lake Mead NRA EPMT is widely regarded as one of the best invasive weed control groups in the region. Because of this, the team is often solicited by other federal land management agencies, local governments and other entities.
Tamarisk work occurs during the winter months and herbaceous weeds are treated in the spring and summer. In the 2005-2006 season, the crew consisted of 24 individuals who treated and improved 6,650 acres of land covered by exotic weeds. The team focuses mainly on springs, washes, and canyons where salt cedar and other invasive plants can be cleared easily and the area maintained and restored with a high success rate.
Not all of the control methods take place after the plant infestation has been established. The team also leads the charge in preventing weed from infesting areas that have been burned in wildfire, a common occurrence in the west. Most recently the team has treated burn areas in Ash Meadows NWR in southern Nevada controlling Russian Knapweed before the population explodes, Canyonlands NP controlling Salt Cedar resprouts along the Green River, and Mojave NPres doing extensive inventories in burned areas and fire suppression equipment staging areas next to the burn.
Lake Mead EPMT's Top Invasive Species
The Lake Mead EPMT has been involved in a large control project with one of the partner parks, Canyon de Chelly NM, in eastern Arizona within the Navajo Nation. The park is marked by beautiful red rock canyons and ancient ruins. These picturesque canyons have become choked with an invasive tree called Russian Olive which changes the hydrology of the area and blocks views to the unique artifacts. The Lake Mead EPMT has partnered with the park to form, train, and assist a local Navajo crew to remove Russian Olive from the canyons.
These photos illustrate how thick the problem is. The first was taken before the teams started clearing the area. The second was taken after the control treatment was completed.
Did You Know?
Desert Bighorn sheep live in matriarchal societies. A dominant female leads a herd, which for much of the year consists primarily of ewes and their lambs. The rams tend to stay together in bachelor groups until the summer breeding season.