Glacier National Park Recruits ‘Weed Warriors’ to Help Stop the Spread of Invasive Plant Species

by Amy Myers

Typically, our national parks encourage visitors to follow the Leave No Trace protocol and make as little of an impact as possible on the environment. However, this July, Glacier National Park is inviting visitors to partake in the Annual Noxious Weed Blitz event. During this event, volunteers will be ripping out invasive plant species at the root.

Glacier National Park has 1,132 species of vascular plants, meaning those that conduct water and nutrients. There are also 88 annual or biennial plant species and 804 types of perennial herbs. Of these numbers, there are 127 non-native species and 18 of them are a serious threat to the ecosystem. As a result, the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center (CCRLC) and the national park have teamed up to help control the spread. With enough people pulling weeds, there’s a greater chance more native species can recover.

According to the park, “Participants will join restoration and integrated pest management biologist Dawn LaFleur to learn about the ecological impacts of noxious weeds and how to identify and remove five targeted invasive plant species.”

The “Weed Warriors” event takes place on July 19, 2022, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in West Glacier. It is completely free to attend and to participate, though you may need to bring a couple of supplies.

“Bring your muscles, gloves, appropriate footwear, and drinking water,” LaFleur advised in an official release.

Participants must register by July 14th by emailing [email protected] or by calling (406) 888-7986.

Meet the Invasive Species Threatening Glacier National Park

In the North Fork prairies, the most dangerous species are the leafy spurge and yellow toadflax. While beautiful to look at, these bright and sunny flowers are a detriment to the surrounding plants. There aren’t many natural barriers to stop these invasive plants from multiplying in these parts. So, they explode across an open region like Glacier National Park’s prairies. As they sprout new plants, they suffocate others in their path, taking up vital sunlight and nutrients.

Elsewhere in the national park, spotted knapweed and ox-eye daisy have invaded the grounds in a similar manner as leafy spurge and yellow toadflax. Meanwhile, the common Timothy grass doesn’t have an alluring flower head but does just as much damage as the others. Originally, ranchers introduced the species to the region in order to feed livestock like horses and cows, but when wild animals started to find their meals in the same region, the grass spread like a green wildfire.

So far, control measures have only been partially successful, which is why the Annual Noxious Weed Blitz event is so crucial in helping restore the natural biodiversity that thrives within Glacier National Park. With consistency and persistence, officials could finally have a handle on the park’s invasive species.