5/1/2012 11:17:00 AM Vegetation Program staff to apply herbicide in developed areas of Grand Canyon National Park Program to begin this month and taget invasive plant species as part of an ongoing effort
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Starting in May and continuing through September, the National Park Service will apply herbicide to targeted, high priority, invasive plant species as part of an ongoing invasive plant management program in Grand Canyon National Park.
The park's developed areas have increased levels of human disturbance, which contribute to the high concentration of invasive plants in these areas. Vegetation Program staff are attempting to restrict the spread of invasive plant species, reduce the number of high priority invasive species, and improve native habitat in areas where invasive species are located.
Herbicide will only be used on species which are considered high priority for control in the park and which are not easily controlled using non-chemical methods. Species that fall within this category include Dalmatian toadflax (Linaria dalmatica) and rush skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea), both of which have extensive underground root systems rendering mechanical control methods ineffective. Also targeted with herbicides are Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) and tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima), which will continually resprout when cut without the use of herbicide. Finally, species such as puncturevine (Tribulus terrestris) and jointed goatgrass (Aegilops cylindrica) may be treated with herbicide due to the inefficiencies involved in mechanically treating extensive populations of countless individuals.
All herbicide use will be closely monitored to assure that negative impacts to native vegetation, wildlife and humans are minimized. Herbicide will be applied using only hand or backpack sprayers, which focus the herbicide spray directly on the targeted plants. Areas in which herbicide applications are used will be appropriately signed and/or flagged to warn residents and visitors to avoid the area. Signs will be removed once the herbicide has dried and it is safe for re-entry. When applying herbicide in residential areas, residents will be notified at least 24 hours prior to the application and will be instructed to keep children and pets out of the application area until the spray has dried.
Specific areas that have been identified for herbicide use include:
Adjacent to the railroad tracks;
Rim lodges and Verkamp's Visitor Center;
Xanterra South Rim L.L.C., general offices;
Power house and mule barns;
Grand Canyon Visitor Center;
Backcountry Information Center;
Labor cabins near Tonto Street;
Utility corridor west of the Grand Canyon Clinic;
Desert View Visitor Center and East Entrance Station; and
Additional areas may be treated as new infestations of high priority species are discovered, or if park biologists determine that previously attempted non-chemical methods have proven unsuccessful. Furthermore, park biologists will carefully track control methods and population trends in all treatment areas, will continue to analyze the effectiveness of treatments and will adaptively manage areas where control is inadequate.
The use of herbicides in the park is allowed as part of the park's integrated approach to managing exotic plant species. In spring 2009, an Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared for implementation of the park's Exotic Plant Management Plan; and a Finding of No Significant Impact was signed by the Regional Director in July, 2009. The EA identifies the need to use an integrated approach to managing exotic plant species, which includes the use of herbicide when it is the most effective and efficient tool to accomplish program goals. All herbicides planned for use in the developed areas are rated low toxicity and have been reviewed and approved by the National Park Service's Regional Integrated Pest Management Coordinator.
For more information, please contact Marybeth Garmoe, invasive plant biologist, at (928) 638-7651.