Rocky Mountain National Park reaches decision on exotic plant management plan |

Rocky Mountain National Park reaches decision on exotic plant management plan

Sky-Hi staff report
One of the most notable invasive species in the park is Woolly Mullein. Woolly Mullein produces a large yellow unbranched flower stalk that can reach a height of seven feet.

As invasive exotic plant species have been overgrowing throughout the last several years in Rocky Mountain National Park, a decision was reached Wednesday on how to better manage the noxious plants.

The U.S. National Park Service released a Finding of No Significant Impact for the exotic plant management plan at the park. This decision document enables the park to improve management of invasive exotic plants by using the most effective available control methods.

The park will adopt an adaptive integrated pest management decision-making framework that incorporates the best available science, expert knowledge, site assessments and monitoring to determine the extent of exotic species infestations, determine if management is necessary, and determine the most effective methods.

Management actions will be prioritized based on the level of threat to park resources, the size and extent of species infestations and the park’s ability to control those infestations.

Invasive exotic plants are capable of spreading rapidly, outcompeting native plants, and drastically altering ecosystem conditions and processes. Non-native invasive plants are appearing at increasing elevations in the park, as well.

Cheatgrass, which was limited to the lowest elevations of the park 20 years ago, is now spreading to areas above 9,500 feet in elevation.

An environmental assessment was prepared in November 2018, to examine alternative actions and environmental impacts associated with the Exotic Plant Management Plan. Initial public scoping for the project began in October 2016, and three public meetings followed in November 2016.

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