Grand Canyon Railway to apply herbicide within Grand Canyon National Park

Application will reduce fire risk, lower threat from invasive plant species

Park staff work to remove invasive plant species from the park. The non-native vegetation can push out native species. (Lori Makarick/NPS)

Park staff work to remove invasive plant species from the park. The non-native vegetation can push out native species. (Lori Makarick/NPS)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Grand Canyon Railway, in consultation with the National Park Service (NPS), will apply herbicide April 4-6 along the railroad tracks including those within Grand Canyon National Park.

The purpose of this 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 fire break for any fires originating elsewhere in the park.

In addition to reducing fire hazards, this herbicide application will aid in the fight 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. 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 Landmark®, which is a broad spectrum herbicide. This herbicide works through inhibiting plant specific enzymes necessary for healthy plant growth.  The herbicide will kill live vegetation, will break down quickly once applied, and will provide pre-emergence control. Landmark® is rated low in toxicity.

Weather permitting, the railroad tracks within the park will be treated April 4, with rain dates n April 5 and 6 if necessary. The herbicide will be applied using a 16-foot boom sprayer. The project will be paid for and implemented by Grand Canyon Railway.  Signs will be posted along pedestrian areas to notify residents and visitors of the 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.

Information provided by the National Park Service.

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