Natural landscapes are a major feature of many national parks. Preserving these landscapes is a primary role of the National Park Service (NPS). However, human actions such as construction and road repair can disturb soils and vegetation to the point where natural recovery is simply not possible.
When that happens, NPS personnel must do more than “preserve and protect.” We must find ways to help re-establish and restore the disturbed landscapes and related habitat. Years of practice and research have shown that specific conditions are required to ensure the successful establishment of native plants and the restoration of natural processes.
The National Park Service aims to use genetically appropriate plant materials to repair damage to habitat caused by unavoidable road construction and road repair activities required by NPS policy. These efforts protect investments in roadside and bridge infrastructure by addressing soil erosion and stabilization issues, native plant establishment, and exotic plant control. This covers all transportation projects that require ground disturbance, from minimal shoulder disturbance to extensive, full reconstruction, or new construction projects disturbing or creating large cut and fill slopes.
Partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Through a partnership established in 1989 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Materials Program,the NPS the ability to provide access to adequate quantities of native seed and to propagate plants genetically adapted to project sites and not commercially available. The seed increase and plant propagation take place at specified Plant Material Centers located throughout the United States. This partnership has resulted in many propagation protocols for native plants now used in the native plant industry. NRCS provides technical assistance with soils, erosion control, plant selection, revegetation and project related exotic plant management.
How Do We Do It?
The National Park Service Denver Service Center Transportation Revegetation Program (TRP) provides assistance with project planning, restoration plans, native seed collection and processing, plant propagation, project implementation and follow-up as well as providing training and support to park staff. The TRP offers advisors and specialists who can assist transportation projects with all areas of native plant revegetation, site restoration, soil analysis, and related erosion control. Limited park staffing may require contracting to plan or implement a revegetation project. The TRP staff can assist with the contracting process, developing scopes of work, cost estimating and proposal reviews.
In summary, the TRP provides parks with knowledge, skills and resources to re-vegetate transportation project impacts. Assistance to re-vegetate transportation project disturbances includes:
- Preparation or review of project specific strategies and revegetation plans
- Preparation or review of revegetation specifications for contract documents
- Preparation of project estimates and funding requests
- Recommendation of strategies for plant material acquisition: salvage, seed or cuttings collection, propagation or purchase
- Treatment recommendations for nonnative and invasive plants
- Assistance with contracting strategies
- Preparation and oversight of revegetation contracts
- Provision of on-site technical assistance
- Integration of revegetation/restoration into the construction process to ensure successful establishment of native plants