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Contact: Whitney Rapp, Invasive Species Coordinator, 907-697-2603
The National Park Service is considering an adaptive management plan to control invasive plants in Alaska National Park System units. Invasive plants are defined as non-native plant species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. The NPS goal is to manage invasive plants in a manner to prevent adverse impacts to park resources and values while minimizing adverse impacts of the management efforts. The NPS needs a long-term management strategy to avoid invasive plant establishment and expansion on local or landscape levels as seen elsewhere in the nation. An environmental assessment was written to evaluate the environmental effects of the proposed action plan and the no-action alternative.
The proposed Invasive Plant Management Plan (IPMP) would address invasive plant infestations in National Park System units throughout the Alaska Region. The IPMP uses a decision flow chart to select appropriate plant control methods, including physical (pulling, digging, cutting, and burning) and chemical (herbicide) treatments to eradicate or contain invasive plant infestations. Herbicides would only be used in small quantities and over small areas to control invasive plants not responding to physical control methods. The no-action alternative would continue to use only physical control methods to control invasive plant infestations, whether or not they are effective.
Alaska is unique among the United States in retaining vast landscapes inhabited by only native species. The sixteen Alaska Region National Park System units are representative of this condition, but invasive plants are beginning to infest areas of high human use. Invasive plant species are becoming widespread in towns and along roadways throughout the state. Impacts of invasive plants to natural areas include displacement of native plant communities, degradation of fish and wildlife habitat, and alteration of ecosystem processes. Invasive plants can also affect visitor perceptions and recreational use as natural areas are degraded over time. While invasive plants have affected only small spatial areas in Alaska NPS units to date, the rapid spread of many invasive species across Alaska indicates that more serious problems are on the horizon. A proactive strategy providing consistency and direction to manage invasive plants will never be more cost-effective than now, when we can focus on prevention, early detection, and rapid response to remove small-scale infestations.
Public comments are requested on the environmental assessment through September 30, 2008. To comment, please visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov, or write to the address above. If you have questions about the EA, please contact Bud Rice, Environmental Protection Specialist, at (907) 644-3530 or email him at Bud_Rice@nps.gov.