The National Park Organic Act of 1916 states:
The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations…which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.
This section of the Organic Act clearly says the mission of the National Park Service is to preserve its resources for future generations. Every day the parks work tirelessly to embody this message, to educate their visitors, and to protect their resources. Every day the parks experience threats to this simple mission. Threats include high numbers of visitors, forest fires, and invasive plants and animals.
One aspect of my internship this summer includes managing exotic plants, also known as invasives. This week we focused on Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula). Originally naturalized in Europe, Leafy Spurge grows at higher elevations, particularly 3,500 ft – 9,000 ft, and it thrives in Rocky Mountain National Park. It is the worst noxious weed in Larimer County, toxic to horses, cattle, and humans and may cause blisters in foraging animals. Not only is it noxious, it also poses damage to the aesthetics of Estes Valley and RMNP. Between the threat to the ecosystems found in the Park and the damage to the aesthetics thus threatening the visitor experience, Leafy Spurge is a target for the Vegetation Crew. We spent the majority of this week spraying the Spurge.
Ackerfield, Jennifer. Flora of Colorado. Texas: Brit Press, 2015.
Born, David, Karin Edwards, George Hockman, and Vicki Papineau, eds. Fourteen Very Unwanted Weeds in the Estes Valley: Identification and Management Guide. Estes Park, Colorado: Estes Land Stewardship Association, 2016.
Dilsaver, Lary M., ed. America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents. 2nd ed. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
Rocky Mountain National Park. “Exotic Plant List.” https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/nature/exotic_plants.htm [accessed July 5, 2017].
TEAM Leafy Spurge. “Spurge Timeline.” https://www.team.ars.usda.gov/v2/timeline.html [accessed July 5, 2017].
US Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. Common Weeds of the United States. New York: Dover Publications, 1971.