Battling Invasive Species in Arches National Park
Our national parks are places of incredible beauty and rich history. There are fewer finer days than those spent in a national park. And yet, for all their beauty, these places also are under siege by non-native species. An understanding of these threats is essential if we are to protect the National Park System for future generations.
Across the system, the landscape is being invaded by "exotic" species that are not just out of place, when you consider what should be growing, swimming or crawling, but in some cases are actually driving out the natives.
Showy when in bloom with its feathery branches and pink flowers, the shrubby tree was brought into the United States in the 1850s from its native North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Once established, this thirsty species not only is adept at monopolizing available water but also stockpiles salt within its leaves, a process that can boost the normal alkalinity of the surrounding soil and poison native plants when the leaves fall off.
Tamarisk is also particularly tough to eradicate. In the accompanying video, produced as part of Montana State University's M.F.A. in Science and Natural History Filmmaking program thanks to a National Park Service grant, rangers at Arches National Park describe the problems posed by tamarisk.
You can learn about other vegetative invaders at this site.