The Heartland IPMT removing Tree of Heaven in Buffalo National River.

NPS photo.

Collaboration in the Midwest

Work to manage invasive species is hardly ever done alone by a park. Here are some helpful organizations that work with parks to combat invasive threats.

Northern Great Plains Invasive Plant Management Team

The Northern Great Plains IPMT works with 14 partner parks in four states. The goal of the Northern Great Plains IPMT is to help parks preserve native plant communities and historic landscapes by managing the spread of invasive plant species. The Northern Great Plains IPMT also works with park personnel to support native plant material development, seeding to restore sites to the desired condition, and other restoration activities like prescribed fire. The area served by the Northern Great Plains IPMT is large, approximately 452,000 acres, and the ecology is diverse. Vast grasslands are found in some parks, others are part of the forested Black Hills, and some include parts of the Missouri, Niobrara or Knife Rivers.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies including chemical, biological, mechanical, and cultural are used to manage invasive plants.

Education and training in IPM are also IPMT priorities. Each year Northern Great Plains IPMT staff offer a week-long training session in the principles and practices of IPM for park staff, partners and IPMT seasonal employees. Field crews for the Northern Great Plains IPMT are based at either Badlands or Theodore Roosevelt National Park and travel to other parks in the network. The Montana Conservation Corps and Minnesota Conservation Corps are also integrated into field crews to increase capacity and efficiency of operations. This allows the youth employed on the Conservation Corps crews to engage in important and substantive work to further the NPS mission.

Heartlands Invasive Plant Management Team

The Heartland Network IPMT, located at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Republic, Missouri, provides invasive plant management expertise for 15 parks in the Midwest Region. Program capacities include consulting, scoping, designing, planning, implementing, and monitoring effective invasive plant management projects. With invasive plants often being too difficult to manage successfully, the Heartland Network IPMT focuses its attention towards the selection of projects that protect high-quality park resources whose value is intrinsic to the respective park.

To ensure protection of these park resources into the future, the Heartland IPMT integrates long-term management into its approach to addressing invasive plant problems. Projects are managed repeatedly and strategically at specific intervals in order to maintain management success. This long-term approach helps ensure that projects are not forgotten but managed effectively into the future.

Heartland IPMT projects include:

  1. Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) removal for glade habitat restoration and threatened species protection
  2. Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) management for wilderness area protection
  3. Oak/hickory tree planting for cultural landscape rehabilitation
  4. Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellate) removal to protect ancient earthworks
  5. Restored prairie management to protect cultural landscapes of historic sites, battlefields, and sacred native American sites
  6. Princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa) management to protect 350+ year old oak/hickory/pine forests

Great Lakes Invasive Plant Management Team

The Great Lakes IPMT provides support to 12 national parks across four states in the western Great Lakes Region. From the dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan, west to the scenic riverways of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and north to the boreal forests along the Canadian border, this region claims diverse aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The region contains multiple rare, significant, and globally threatened ecosystems. It is also home to an international biosphere reserve. Geographical and environmental conditions have mostly limited the impact of invasive species to those of cultural origin (ornamentals / intentionally planted). However, visitor use and necessary maintenance activities have introduced new invasive species.

The team balances its activity to meet two vastly different needs:

  1. Long-term, large-scale control and restoration, and
  2. Early detection and eradication of nascent populations.

To meet those needs, the team provides parks with focused regional expertise and skilled control work. Discipline specific knowledge and a network of partners allow the team to anticipate threats to individual parks and work toward site-specific management options. As a shared regional resource, the team either augments existing management efforts at parks or provides parks with management options.

  • St. Croix/Red Cedar CWMA
  • Wisconsin DNR
  • Minnesota DNR
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin
  • University of Wisconsin Extension
  • Midwest Invasive Plant Network
  • Northwoods Cooperative Weed Management Area
  • Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa

Targeted Plant Species Watchlist for the Midwest

  • Buckthorn (Rhamnus spp.)
  • Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  • Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
  • Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)
  • Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
  • Baby’s breath (Gypsophila spp.)
  • Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
  • Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
  • Phragmites (Phragmites spp.)
  • Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos)
  • Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula)
  • Japanese stilitgrass (Microstegium vimineum)
  • Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea)
  • Crown vetch (Securigera varia)

Case Study of Invasive Species Projects in the Midwest: Adaptive Management of Annual Bromes in the Northern Great Plains

A collaborative effort between United States Geological Survey (USGS) researchers, Northern Great Plains Inventory and Monitoring Network, Northern Great Plains Fire Management, Northern Rocky Mountain IPMT, several NPS Units and NGP IPMT have continued a research project to identify best management practices for managing invasive annual grasses in the Northern Great Plains. Through this research, an adaptive management plan is being developed to assist parks in making appropriate science-based decisions for annual grass management in the Northern Great Plains. This project involves several years of treatment actions at Scotts Bluff National Monument (NM) and Badlands and Wind Cave National Parks. It also includes components to increase availability of local source-identified native plant materials for restoration and best management practices for their use in restoration. A secure long-term seed storage facility has been developed at Wind Cave National Park (NP) that will ensure viable seed remains available for restoration projects in the Northern Great Plains far into the future.

Additional Links and Resources

Contacts for Further Information

Ian Torrence
Northern Great Plains IPMT Liaison
email Ian

Last updated: December 13, 2023