Exotic Plant Management Environmental Assessment
Use of adaptive IPM will help the park to protect and restore native species, ecosystems, and the visitor experience from the detrimental effects of exotic plant invasion. The number of invasive exotic plant species in the park has grown over the years despite control efforts. Invasive exotic plants are capable of spreading rapidly, outcompeting native plants, and drastically altering ecosystem conditions and processes. Park staff will now have the flexibility to use a full range of integrated pest management tools, including mechanical control, responsible chemical control, cultural practices, early detection, and monitoring the effectiveness of management strategies. These control methods could be used separately or in combination with one another, depending upon which species are targeted for management.
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 3 public meetings followed in November 2016. As part of the plan, the park and the Colorado State Historic Preservation Officer entered into a Programmatic Agreement that outlines the process the park will follow to meet the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for exotic plant management plan activities when the effects of the undertaking are not fully known. The plan also contains a programmatic Wilderness Minimum Requirement Decision Guide to identify, analyze, and select management actions to avoid and minimize impacts on wilderness character. In addition, the park submitted a biological assessment to the US Fish & Wildlife Service to document potential impacts and proposed mitigation and conservation measures to protect federally listed threatened, endangered, and candidate species.
The Acting Director of the Intermountain Region, National Park Service (NPS), has signed a decision document for the Exotic Plant Management Plan that will enable Rocky Mountain National Park (park) to improve management of invasive exotic plants by allowing the park to use the most effective available control methods. As part of the signed decision document, the park will adopt an adaptive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 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.