Invasive Plants

The spread of invasive species is a major factor contributing to undesirable landscape level change and ecosystem instability in national parks. The National Park Service (NPS) is working to manage invasive species in park units through a suite of national and local programs.

As of 2022, there were over 2.6 million acres of national park units infested with invasive plants, of which only approximately 57,000 acres are controlled, in which invasive plant infestations have been reduced to a level that can be maintained by park staff.

a wide open area of tall thick grasses a wide open area of tall thick grasses

Left image
Large patch of Phragmites in a West Beach panne at Indiana Dunes National Park in 2009.

Right image
The same site after restoration in 2022, the Phragmites has been successfully removed and replaced with native species.

Through collaboration between the Great Lakes Invasive Plant Management Team (GL IPMT) and Indiana Dunes National Park (INDU), a panne was restored after being infested by invasive plants including common reed (Phragmites australis). A panne is a globally vulnerable interdunal wetland community with many endangered and at-risk species. The most important action the GL IPMT took after initial treatment was returning annually to treat the invasive species that grew from the rhizomes and seed bank. The most important lesson learned from this work is that control of invasive plants and full restoration of sites requires consistent management efforts. In less than two decades, an ecosystem was restored, and decades of degradation were repaired. Through the partnership of IPMTs and national parks, many restoration projects previously thought not viable can and will become success stories like this one.

pink wildflowers in bloom among tall grass
The wildflowers that bloom in the interdunal wetland are a beautiful representation of the biodiversity that has returned.

NPS Photo

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Last updated: May 31, 2023