Workers in Olympic National Park
NCCN IPMT and Olympic National Park staff travel into the backcountry at Olympic National Park's Elwha River.

NPS photo.

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 supports 16 partner park units located within the California Floristic Province in California and Southern Oregon. Regarded for its exceptionally high concentration of endemic plants, this region is one of 36 world biodiversity hotspots. Of the more than 4,600 species of vascular plants found in California, one-third of the species are endemic to the region, along with over 1,000 non-native species. The California IPMT provides technical assistance directly to parks to identify programmatic needs, develop strategic goals, and provide support for ongoing park projects. The California IPMT provides resources to parks for staff to complete treatments, survey and map invasive plant populations, and complete native plant restorations through an annual proposal process. The California IPMT works with state and federal agencies to integrate partner parks into statewide and national networks, while building multi-jurisdictional collaborations that support successful vegetation management both within and around national parks.

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

Michael Reeves
Northern Rocky Mountain IPMT Liaison
email Michael

Gilbert Moreno
North Coast-Cascades Network IPMT Liaison
email Gilbert

Last updated: December 13, 2023