Gap project battles invasive plants

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:03

    Bushkill - Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the National Park Service’s Northeast Exotic Plant Management Team (EPMT) have joined forces to battle invasive exotic shrubs on the New Jersey side of the park. Approximately 27 acres of old farm fields near Walpack Center are being cleared of non-native shrubs, brush, and plants so that grassy pasture areas can be re-established. These fields provide habitat for the grassland bird populations, declining because of the loss of habitat caused in part by these plants. The project demonstrates that, with the proper equipment, areas overgrown with invasive exotic plants can be restored to good quality wildlife habitat. Once cleared, the reservoir of grass seed in the fields will germinate so grassland nesting birds like bobolinks should eventually come back to nest. Some follow-up treatment will be necessary to ensure that the exotic shrubs do not resprout. According to park Superintendent John Donahue, “The elimination of exotic species is critical to preserving the resources of this outstanding unit of the National Park Service.” In recognition of this critical invasion by exotic plants, the National Park Service established sixteen Exotic Plant Management Teams. Stationed throughout the United States, they are modeled after the coordinated rapid response approach used in wildland firefighting by creating a highly trained, mobile strike force of invasive plant management specialists. These techniques can assist parks in the management of their invasive plants. For further information, contact Betsy Lyman, Liaison, Northeast Exotic Plant Management Team, at 570-588-0513 or Larry Hilaire, Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area at 570-296-6952, ext. 27.