Crewmembers of the Southwest Exotic Plant Management Team (EPMT) spray cheatgrass along the roadside in Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico. NPS photo
Crewmembers of the Southwest Invasive Plant Management Team (IPMT) spray cheatgrass along the roadside in Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico.

NPS Photo.

Collaboration in the Southwest

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.

Lake Mead Inter-Regional Invasive Plant Management Team

The Lake Mead Inter-Regional Invasive Plant Management Team (LAKE IPMT) was established in 1996, serving as the prototype model for what eventually developed into the NPS IPMT program. Since then, the team has conducted on the ground projects with field crews in 37 NPS units, 15 U.S. Fish and Wildlife National Wildlife Refuges, seven Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Districts, the Bureau of Reclamation, four U.S. Forest Service National Forests, two Bureau of Indian Affairs units, and the Marine Corps Yuma Air Station, plus has worked with the Bureau of Reclamation and several state and local entities throughout the southwest.

The team has three primary goals:

  1. Provide expertise in the control of weeds from priority areas to preserve, restore, and maintain native plant communities,
  2. Professionalize invasive plant management within the NPS and its partners by developing staff expertise,
  3. Improve government efficiencies through interagency cooperation by developing partnerships to effectively manage weeds on a landscape level.

Southwest Invasive Plant Management Team

The Southwest Invasive Plant Management Team (SW IPMT) is ideally situated to play a central role in the restoration of disturbed native ecosystems and habitat throughout the Southwest. The SW IPMT’s vision is: to collaborate with park staff, with other programs within the National Park Service (NPS), and with park neighbors, local communities and organizations, and other state and federal agencies, to restore the native ecosystems of our parks and surrounding lands. The team’s primary mission is to provide planning, logistics, education, and field crews that support the control of invasive plant species and the restoration of disturbed areas to functioning ecosystems on 46 NPS units and adjacent lands in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

The SW IPMT supports a number of programs related to the international issues of invasive plants, ecosystem fragmentation, and habitat restoration. Significant activities beyond treating invasives include research in control and restoration methods, the production of appropriate native plant materials, and collaboration with communities and partners. The SW IPMT works with and supports a diverse coalition of universities, land management agencies, non-profit, and conservation groups to restore native plant biodiversity and the ecosystems that sustain our native flora and faunal heritage.

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 Southwest

  • Giant reed (Arundo donax)
  • Mexican fireweed (Bassia scoparia)
  • African mustard (Brassica tournefortii)
  • Red brome (Bromus rubens)
  • Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum)
  • Musk thistle (Carduus nutans)
  • Malta starthistle (Centaurea melitensis)
  • Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
  • Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)
  • Houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale)
  • Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
  • Lehmann’s lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmannii)
  • Halogeton (Halogeton glomeratus)
  • Hoary cress (Lepidium draba)
  • Sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata)
  • Yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)
  • Chinaberry (Melia azedarach)
  • Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare)
  • Russian knapweed (Rhaponticum repens)
  • Ravennagrass (Saccharum ravennae)
  • Russian thistles (Salsola spp.)
  • Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense)
  • Tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima)
  • Common mullein (Verbascum thapsis)
  • Sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata)
  • Matthiola (Matthiola parviflora)
  • Rose Natal grass (Melinis repens)
  • Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus)
  • Stinknet/Globe chamomile (Oncosiphon piluliferum)
  • Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum)
  • Athel (Tamarix aphylla)
  • Desert knapweed (Volutaria tubuliflora)

Case Study of Invasive Species Projects in the Southwest: Manzanar National Historic Site Broadcast Treatments and Great Basin National Park Post-Fire Treatments

Manzanar National Historic Site (MANZ) has an ongoing battle with Russian thistle (Salsola tragus) that causes a nuisance to the park and its visitors and is an overwhelming management challenge for the park’s small staff. The park requested LAKE IPMT’s assistance to provide a longer-term, effective, and efficient solution to their thistle problem. Until this year, methods included labor intensive hoeing and post-emergent herbicide treatments. As a result, thistle continually emerged after rain events throughout the spring and summer months. The IPMT reviewed alternative herbicides, consulted weed scientists, and formulated a treatment prescription that included using a longer term preemergent herbicide with soil residual activity that is compatible with local on-site objectives while preventing damage to the desirable trees in the area. MANZ provided a tractor and operator while the LAKE IPMT provided additional technical assistance and applied treatments in more sensitive areas using backpack spray equipment. These treatments were effective and have nearly eliminated the inefficiencies of the previous control methods. The IPMT also assisted Great Basin National Park with post-fire brome grass control in the Strawberry Creek drainage which had recently burned. The park staff funded the LAKE IPMT, taking advantage of the Team’s ability to conduct these types of post-fire invasive plant control operations using backpack equipment in remote areas.

Contacts for Further Information

Michael Reeves
Northern Rocky Mountain IPMT Liaison
email Michael

John Mack
Southwest Acting IPMT Liaison
email John

Last updated: December 13, 2023