Who are the EPMTs?
One of the many ways the NPS is combating invasive plants is through the Exotic Plant Management Program. The program assists parks in preventing introductions of new species, reducing existing infestations, and restoring native plant communities and ecosystem functions. In 2000 the NPS created the Exotic Plant Management Program that now supports 16 teams working in over 225 park units. Exotic Plant Management Teams (EPMT) are led by individuals with specialized knowledge and experience in invasive plant management. Each field-based team operates over a wide geographic area and serves over a dozen parks to increase operational efficiency. In addition to NPS staff, the EPMTs work with volunteers, contractors, and service organizations to meet the Agency’s mission: the preservation of native habitats for the enjoyment of future generations.
What do they do?
Using multiple strategies, each team creates a work plan tailored to the needs of their partner parks, which may include cooperation and collaboration, inventory and monitoring, prevention, treatment and control, and restoration. EPMTs work in a wide variety of ecosystems to target over 700 invasive plant species nationwide. The EPMT’s work in both urban and natural environments, ranging from park units within Washington DC to the Alaskan backcountry. Some examples of work sites include:
Cooperation and Collaboration: The teams partner with parks, agencies, tribal governments, community groups, and landowners to combine the expertise of invasive species specialists, willing hands of volunteers, and community land owners in managing invasive plants in and around parks. This strategy allows for invasive plant management on larger geographic areas by combining resources from each party. One example of these partnerships is cooperative weed management area programs (CWMA’s). CWMA’s are locally based organizations that help landowners, land managers, and invasive plant experts pool resources to manage invasive
plants within a local area.
Inventory and Monitoring: Inventory and monitoring efforts assist parks in locating infestations of invasive species. These efforts can assist park managers in assessing current invasive species conditions in a park and in developing management strategies to complement current conditions. The teams assist parks in this process, providing critical data to guide management decisions.
Prevention: The EPMTs contribute to prevention practices through implementing a combination of early detection, education, and adaptive management strategies. The teams assist parks and resource managers in developing “Best Management Practices” which facilitates sharing effective management strategies between parks and land managers. The teams also use outreach opportunities to educate the parks, agencies, tribal governments, community groups, and landowners on preventing the introduction and spread of invasive plants. EPMTs participate in community events such as county fairs and Fourth of July celebrations.
Treatment and Control: Each team treats a specific group of invasive plants in their work areas. These species may change slightly from year to year depending upon how responsive they were to treatment methods in the past. From 2000 -2008 the teams treated approximately 700 taxa. The teams use multiple treatment methods, including hand pulling weeds, burning infested areas, mowing, and spraying. Ultimately all treatment methods are reviewed and approved by the Integrated Pest Management Program, the parks, and the teams prior to use.
Early Detection and Rapid Response: The most effective time to treat invasive species is when the infestations are new to an area and populations are small. The teams assist parks in identifying new infestations and can quickly move to treat these infestations before they spread. This concept is central to the effective management of invasive species.
Restoration: Restoration of native ecosystems is the ultimate goal of the program. At times, recovery of native ecosystems can occur naturally over time following the removal of invasive species. However, active restoration efforts may be needed following treatment of invasive plant species. In Hawai’i invasive plants such as kahili ginger and Himalayan raspberry can completely replace the forested areas they invade. Following removal, native species can be planted to facilitate a faster recovery of the native forest.
More details about how the teams implement the above strategies can be found in the annual reports.
Exotic Plant Management Teams
To learn more about individual teams and the work they do, click on a region on the map or choose from the drop down list to get more information