Grand Canyon Railway to spray herbicide near tracks, including inside park

Herbicide will be sprayed along Grand Canyon Railway tracks to reduce fire danger, create a fire break and fight against invasive plants. (Photo/Grand Canyon Railway)

Herbicide will be sprayed along Grand Canyon Railway tracks to reduce fire danger, create a fire break and fight against invasive plants. (Photo/Grand Canyon Railway)

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — On April 3, Grand Canyon Railway, in consultation with the National Park Service (NPS), will be applying herbicide 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 firebreak for any fires that may occur within 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 used for this project is Landmark XP, 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 XP is rated low in toxicity.

Weather permitting, the railroad tracks within the park will be treated April 3, with a rain date of May 1. Treatment will be by a specialized rail car 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 of the tracks 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 NPS

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