Stop the Spread

There is a phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This phrase rings especially true in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species in our national parks. There are a variety of simple steps a visitor can take to ensure that they are not transporting invasive species into, around, or out of a park. Find out how you can help stop the spread before you recreate, afterwards, and even at home!

A boot in a boot brushing station
Cleaning your boots before you head out on the trail can help prevent the spread of invasive species.


Before You Recreate

Check in with your park. Visit your park’s website or check in at the visitor center to learn about current issues with invasive species.

Bring short gaiters. Wearing short gaiters to cover your socks and pant bottoms can prevent sticky seeds, such as cheat grass, from getting stuck in your socks.

Clean your shoes or boots before you hit the trail. Use boot brushing stations when provided and consider carrying a boot brush in your car or pack. Rinse the soles if possible. Learn why you should brush your boots before heading out.

Don’t pack a pest. People from all over the world visit national parks. If you’re traveling by land, air, or sea make sure you Don’t Pack a Pest that could be lingering on certain types of food, plants, or other agricultural items.

Use weed free feed, if possible, when using pack animals, such as horses, mules, and cattle, prior to and during, your visit. Contact the park you will be visiting to see if they have a list of local vendors of weed seed free feed.

Don't move firewood. If you’re building a campfire, use local firewood. Do not bring in firewood from outside the immediate area. (Check park websites for specific instructions).

black line drawing of three flowers

After You Recreate

Play, Clean, Go

Wash your vehicle, especially if you have been driving on unpaved roads or off road. Plant materials can get stuck in your tires and undercarriage. This includes cars, bikes, and ATV's.

Shake out your tent, camp chairs, sleeping bags, and other camp accessories before leaving the campsite to remove any plant or seed materials.

Brush off or wash your pets, if they have been out romping in the parks. Sticky seeds can hitchhike on their fur.

Clean your shoes or boots by knocking dirt and plant materials out of the treads. Consider carrying a boot brush in your car or pack. Rinse the soles if possible.

three employees clean off an inflatable boat
Always Clean, Drain, Dry your boats and equipment.


Clean, Drain, Dry. Thoroughly rinse your gear and pressure wash your boats, water skis, and other recreation vehicles on site. Plants and aquatic organisms can get into any place water can get into. Use hot water if available. Learn how to clean, drain, and dry.

Don’t dump your bait. Unused bait should be discarded into trash cans. Using live bait should be avoided if possible. Many parks do not allow live fish or amphibians as bait. Make sure to know the regulations of the area you’re visiting.

Report invasive species. Locating invasive species just as they are beginning to invade an area and treating new infestations quickly is a management approach called Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR). In a national park, let a ranger know when you spot invasive species. They will want to know the location (GPS coordinates if possible), the name of the invasive species, when you saw it, and photos of the species. Outside of a national park, follow these best practices for reporting.

black line drawing of bear tracks

At Home

Invasive species are not just a problem in national parks — they're a problem worldwide. Stopping the spread of invasive species requires vigilance in all communities. Find out how you can help stop the spread at home.

Last updated: April 14, 2022