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Smooth brome (Bromus inermis) is a cool-season grass that invades prairies.

#31771 Heartland Exotic Plant Management Plan

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Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network (HTLN) parks in eight states (Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio) propose the establishment of an exotic plant management team (EPMT) action plan to control exotic plants cooperatively. This will support restoration of native vegetation in several ecosystem types associated with tallgrass prairies, Eastern deciduous forests, interior highlands, and the Mississippi floodplain within the parks.

The approach uses a cooperative/collaborative program to achieve economy of scale that augments exotic plant programs existing in the parks, monitors effects for adaptive management, and centralizes data management for parks. The program would also require the allocation of resources to target species and locations, where success is most feasible and critical resources (i.e. threatened species, restoration areas, significant cultural landscapes) are most threatened.

For many parks, compliance for treatment of invasive exotic plants has been handled under a Categorical Exclusion (CE) tiering from an existing vegetation plan. According to planning guidance, these CEs include section 3.4.e(2), restoration of noncontroversial (based on internal scoping requirements) native species into suitable habitats within their historic range; and 3.4.e(3) removal of individual members of a non-threatened/endangered species or populations of pests and exotic plants that pose an imminent danger to visitors or an immediate threat to park resources.

The EPMT would be proactive in the treatment of exotic invasive species before threats become severe. Prevention and early detection would be important to success in managing invasive exotic species. The Heartland parks would benefit from collaborative, consistent, and continuous management, based on more strategic planning documentation than a general vegetation plan and CE provide.

Actions would be taken that probably have little or no potential for harmful environmental impact. Despite this, a thorough assessment with an Environmental Assessment (EA) will ensure that the understanding of environmental impacts is correct and that no cumulative impacts may occur with repeated action over time or with other planned actions in the parks. An EA will also ensure that partners, stakeholders, and the public can offer advice, concerns, and issues to consider in the analysis and planning.

Additionally, some proposed treatments may require mitigation for their use, which requires higher level compliance than a CE. An EA or other rigorous assessment document may broaden the set of tools available for safe exotic plant management within parks. It allows early detection and treatment before the invasion is a dire threat. It also taps the expertise of botanists and other experts with experience in this field to augment the knowledge base at the parks.

This project will result in an Exotic Invasive Plant Management Plan and an analysis of impacts with subsequent findings of impact.
Contact Information
Craig Young
Heartland EPMT
Wilson's Creek NB
6424 West Farm Road 182
Republic, MO 65738-9514