Collaboration in the Northwest

Work to manage invasive species in National Parks is often supplemented by the Invasive Plant Management Teams. Here are some helpful organizations that work with parks to combat invasive threats.

The North Coast-Cascades Network Invasive Plant Management Team

The North Coast-Cascades Network IPMT manages a diverse array of invasive plants across the dramatic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. From temperate rainforests of Olympic National Park and vast mountain lakes of North Cascades National Park, to oak savannahs of San Juan Island National Historical Park and picturesque agricultural fields of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, the team assists partner parks across western Washington State and northwestern Oregon. Working across all of these varying ecosystems presents a unique challenge; crew members must be prepared to adapt to temperatures ranging from the breezy 40’s and 50’s of coastal Washington’s spring and autumn to the scorching 100˚ heat of protected river valleys in high summer. The team works with partner parks and agencies to augment vegetation management across the network. Projects generally focus on preventing the spread of invasive plant species into sensitive wilderness, preparing disturbed areas for ecological restoration, or assisting in large-scale ecosystem management with partner organizations. The team’s projects vary from long-term ecological restoration to Early Detection Rapid Response. North Coast-Cascades Network IPMT’s partner parks manage over 2.1 million acres of federally protected land. With methods ranging from foliar application of selective herbicides on annual broadleaf species, pre-emergent treatment of non-native grasslands, or control of woody shrubs and trees with herbicide lances, North Coast-Cascades Network IPMT is prepared to handle most noxious weed situations.

The Northern Rocky Mountain Invasive Plant Management Team

The Northern Rocky Mountain IPMT serves 25 parks across Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Since its inception in 2003, the Northern Rocky Mountain IPMT program emphasizes the systematic, long-term management and control of invasive plant species. The area is vast and diverse encompassing high and low elevation sagebrush steppe, forests, sub-alpine meadows, and wetland and riparian areas. Many parks in this network are small (median size is 14,464 acres) and a number of them don’t have staff members available to address even their highest priority invasive species. The Northern Rocky Mountain IPMT is currently a 9-person crew strategically divided into three small crews based at two larger and one smaller parks throughout the network. Nearly all 25 partner parks receive work annually from the team and most parks receive multiple visits. Repeat visits are critical for most project areas to ensure all invasive plants are located and removed. Much of the team’s effort is focused on controlling state listed noxious weeds, as well as providing rapid response to new and/or particularly problematic invaders. The Northern Rocky Mountain IPMT program relies heavily on the region’s seasonal dichotomy, working lower elevation parks in Utah and Idaho early in the growing season and higher elevation, northern parks in Wyoming and Montana later in the summer.

The California Invasive Plant Management Team

The California IPMT serves 14 parks that are located within the California Floristic Province. Regarded for its exceptionally high concentration of endemic plants, this region is one of 25 world biodiversity hotspots. Of 3,500 vascular plants found in California, over two-thirds of the species are found nowhere else in the world. The California IPMT parks encompass 2.1 million acres; of which 290,436 have been identified as infested with invasive non-native plants. Treatments are often complex, as project sites range from the remote and wild Channel Islands National Park, to rangeland projects at Point Reyes National Seashore. The enormity of the issue and the reduction in program funding demands judicious dedication of financial resources, careful prioritization of treatments, and promotion of partnerships that facilitate strategically robust treatments.

Targeted Plant Species Watchlist for the Northwest

  • Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae)
  • Ventenata (Berteroa incana)
  • Rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea)
  • Dyers woad (Isatis tinctoria)
  • Stinkwort (Dittrichia graveolens)
  • Jointed goatgrass (Aegilops cylindrica)
  • Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
  • Molegrass (Euphorbia lathyris)
  • Female fluvellin (Kickxia spuria
  • Hyssop loosetrife (Lythrum hypssopifolia)

Case Study of Invasive Species Projects in Northwest

In 2015, University of Idaho researchers finalized a model to define public lands of eastern Idaho that are highly susceptible to leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula). Leafy spurge has invaded many of the area’s wet meadows and agricultural fields. Bechler Meadows, a popular horse packing area in the southwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park, currently has no leafy spurge, but was found highly susceptible to this aggressive invasive plant. In 2016, NPS crews surveyed 5 miles of the park boundary and U.S. Forest Service roads leading to the Bechler Ranger Station. No leafy spurge was found within 1 mile of the park, but several dense, 1-acre roadside patches were found between 1 and 2 miles from the park. To prevent their spread, these patches were prioritized for herbicide application in 2017 and 2018. The Northern Rocky Mountains IPMT submitted a U.S. Forest Service proposal and was approved to apply a single application of imazapic herbicide to all five roadside patches of leafy spurge nearest to the park boundary in September of 2017 and 2018. In 2018, plants had declined 35 percent from the previous year (84 gallons to 55 gallons applied) so there is more work to be done. In 2019, plans are set to return with assistance from the Montana Conservation Corp to ensure these patches continue to decline and more importantly, a greater portion of the area is surveyed to ensure these are the only patches in need of treatment. The NRM IPMT is committed to assisting Yellowstone NP as long as necessary to protect this prized recreational resource.

Contacts for Further Information

Bobbi Simpson
California IPMT Liaison
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Steven Bekedam
Northern Rocky Mountain IPMT Liaison
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Cheryl Decker
North Coast-Cascades Network IPMT Liaison
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Last updated: September 13, 2019