Grand Canyon, Ariz. - On February 7 - 9, Grand Canyon Railway, in consultation with the National Park Service (NPS), will be applying herbicide along their railroad tracks including those within Grand Canyon National Park.
The purpose of the application is to inhibit the growth of vegetation adjacent to the railroad tracks, lowering the risk of train wheel sparks igniting a fire. Once the treatment is completed, this area will also act as a firebreak for any fires originating elsewhere in the park.
In addition to reducing fire hazards, this herbicide application will aid in the battle against invasive plant species in the park. The railroad tracks create an environment of disturbance that encourages the spread of invasive plants. Currently, more than 30 non-native species are found in close proximity to the railroad tracks. According to the NPS, this treatment will not only help reduce the number of invasive plants found in the area, but will also help reduce the transportation of seeds and plant parts that spread these species.
The herbicide being used for this project is Milestone TM VM, a broad spectrum herbicide formulated with the active ingredient aminopyralid. Aminopyralid works by mimicking a plant growth hormone that causes uncontrolled and disorganized plant growth, leading to plant death. Milestone TM VM not only kills live vegetation, but will remain active in the soil throughout the spring, inhibiting the germination of seeds. This herbicide is rated low toxicity.
Weather permitting, railroad tracks within the park will be treated on Tuesday, Feb. 8, using a 16-foot boom sprayer. The project will be funded and implemented by Grand Canyon Railway. Pedestrian areas near the tracks will be appropriately signed to notify residents and visitors of the herbicide application.
In spring of 2009, an Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared for implementation of the park's Exotic Plant Management Plan. A Finding of No Significant Impact was signed by the Regional Director in July of 2009. The EA identifies the need to use an integrated approach to exotic plant management, which includes the use of herbicides. It also stresses the necessity for collaboration such as this joint effort between the NPS and Grand Canyon Railway.
For more information, please contact Lori Makarick, Vegetation Program Manager, at 928-638-7455, Marybeth Garmoe, Invasive Plant Biologist, at 928-638-7857 or Ervin White with Grand Canyon Railroad at 928-635-4010 ext. 1022.
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