Invasive species

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The Prevention and Management of Invasive Species

(Plants, Vertebrates, and Invertebrates)

FY 2008 - 2010

The Rio Grande National Forest

and the

San Luis Valley Resource Area
Rocky Mountain Region

USDA Forest Service

Bureau of Land Management

USDI Colorado State Office

Our Approach to

Maintaining and Restoring the Health of Our Public Lands

_Tom Malecek_(for)________ ___04/30/2008_


SLV Public Lands

Center Manager

1. Priority Species and Populations on the Rio Grande NF

    1. The species listed below comprise our priority invasive species, based on the following criteria:

        1. Low in abundance

        2. Control is mostly feasible on SLV Public Lands.

        3. Species have the ability to establish dominance in aquatic and native plant communities,

        4. Capable of and invade a variety of relatively healthy ecosystems.

Priority Invasive Species:

(1) Yellow toadflax

(2) Russian knapweed

(3) Black Henbane

(4) Cheat grass (Downy brome)

(5) Leafy Spurge

(6) Oxeye daisy

(7) Tall and short white top

(8) Canada Thistle

  1. Watch species – Currently in San Luis Valley-Musk thistle, tamarisk, Russian olive, leafy spurge, and Eurasian milfoil.

b) The species listed below are Aquatic Invasive Species

(10) Hydrilla

(11) Eurasian watermilfoil

(12) Purple Loosestrife

(13) New Zealand Mudsnails

(14) Zebra mussels

(15) Quagga mussels
c) Management area maps for priority species:
(16) Appendix A, Map 3 outlines where the PLC will adopt “Containment” or “Eradication”


(a) Cheat grass eradication Forest-wide.

(b) Yellow toadflax containment areas – FS lands immediately surrounding the town of Creede.

(c) Yellow toadflax eradication areas - Park Creek, Pass Creek and Weminuche Wilderness on Divide RD, entire Conejos Peak (including the South San Juan Wilderness) and Saguache Ranger Districts.

(d) Russian knapweed – Containment areas – County Roads within Saguache County both on FS and BLM lands.

(e) Russian knapweed – eradication in any locations found on Forest and BLM lands including McIntyre/Simpson and Blanca Wetland and La Jara Reservoir area.

(f) Oxeye daisy – containment to Highway 17 corridor and south side of Stunner Pass.

(g) Oxeye daisy – eradication efforts will be made Forest-wide.

(h) Tall and short white-top – eradication PLC wide.

(i) Canada thistle – Areas that are heavily infested by Canada thistle, such as the Twister Timber Sale, may be treated as containment areas Eradication efforts will be focused on Wilderness area infestations and small isolated patches and infestations located within McIntyre/Simpson and Blanca Wetlands.

(j) Aquatic Invasive Species such as the zebra and quagga mussels have not been

detected on the Rio Grande National Forest or on San Luis Valley Public Lands

however every effort must be made to keep the aquatic invasive species from

crossing west of the 100th Meridian, which is located west of the Continental Divide.

Zebra mussels have been detected in Pueblo Reservoir which is located 130 miles east of the San Luis Valley. The 100th Meridian Initiative Coordination and the Upper Rio Grande Basin Aquatic Invasive Species committee are expending tremendous efforts, energy and coordination to ensure these aquatic species don’t cross the Continental Divide. It is imperative that the Rio Grande National Forest and San Luis Valley Public Lands follow their direction and leadership.

Annually new GIS maps will be created and coded by species and by inventory year.

Electronic copies will be available on the Forest Service Server and the Rio Grande

Range Invasive Species Intranet Site.
(17) Other strategic guidelines or narratives that specify the management of each species in the lands within the boundary of the Public Lands Center.

Major emphasis areas for inventory during 2008-2010 will include:

  • Back country and motorized trail systems.

  • Weminuche, South San Juan, La Garita, and Sangre de Cristo Wilderness areas.

  • Blanca Wetlands & McIntyre/Simpson on BLM lands.

  • An advanced monitoring program for aquatic invasive species on all Upper Rio Grande Basin reservoirs, dams, ponds, rivers, and creeks within Forest Service, BLM, and adjacent lands.

  • Timber sale and fuel treatment areas/fire.

Within these areas, the main species expected to be encountered are Canada thistle, oxeye daisy, yellow toadflax, short and tall white top.

Aquatic species expected to be encountered are Zebra and Quagga mussels.
All weed contractors since FY 2005 have been required, as part of their weed contract specifications, to GPS every infestation that they treat, using approved FS data dictionaries.

This requirement met with varying degrees of success until the 2007 weed season when accurate and usable maps were created at the end of the treatment season and can now become a usable and reliable tool for tracking treatment efforts. These efforts will continue and will contain specific language in future contracts as to requirements, data dictionary, and use of Geo Explorer GPS units by all contractors and inventory crews.

Wilderness areas will be treated utilizing the most effective and least obtrusive method available based upon potential of spread and aggressiveness of species to reduce threat to wilderness values. The Minimum Tools Analysis Process for actions taken within wilderness areas will be used to determine the most cost effective method of treatment to be utilized. Wilderness Rangers will be the primary individuals responsible for inventory and as appropriate may be directly involved in the treatment of infestations. Inventory of all trails, trailheads, dispersed camp sites, and off trail sites will be their responsibility.
Where appropriate the use of biological and mechanical control methods will be incorporated into the control/eradication of invasive species in addition to chemical treatment, which is the main methodology to be used. This is part of the coordinated/integrated weed treatment strategy between the Forest and BLM within the San Luis Valley Public Lands Center.
Colorado and New Mexico are working on a legislative plan to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. The laws would be similar to the Noxious Weed Act. Both Colorado and New Mexico are expecting to have the act signed by the end of 2008. The Forest Service and BLM will follow the State of Colorado’s direction for aquatic invasive species control and coordinate with the 100th Meridian Initiative and Upper Rio Grande Basin Aquatic Invasive Species committee to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.
2. (10) Priority treatment areas 2008-2010

    1. Identify current and desired annual acreage treatment levels, by area.

    2. Planned treatment levels should indicate a substantial trend toward treatment of one-third of existing acreage (priority species) annually, over the life of this strategy.

    3. Consider:

i. Human concentration areas (Key campgrounds, trailheads etc),

ii. Riparian corridors,

iii. Special resource value areas, i.e. key wildlife habitats, ongoing fire rehab, etc.

Table 1:





Project /Area A:

Million and Coolbroth Fire, miscellaneous ABC fires, past and proposed fuels projects.

150 acres of treatment.

Inventory of approximately 1,000 acres of FS lands within burns and project areas.


Project/Area B:

Alamosa, Conejos, Rio de Los Pinos, and Rio Grande Rivers; La Garita Creek, Fox Creek, Saguache Creek , all campgrounds, trailheads, and administrative sites.

150 acres treatment.

Inventory of undetermined number of FS acres based upon budget.


Project/Area C;

Concentrate inventory/treatment efforts within all Rio Grande National Forest Wilderness areas and on BLM Wilderness Study areas.

20 acres treatment.

Other miscellaneous inventory work- Forest-wide

10 acres


Timber Sale Areas – Buffalo Pass, Twister II, Finger Mesa and Black Mountain.

Up to 98 acres.



310 acres of NFVW-NW accomplishment and approximately 98 acres of KV accomplishment.


Project /Area D:

Fuels reduction treatment areas.

Treatment; total treatment accomplishment i.e.15% over 2005 target.


Project /Area D:


Follow-up treatment of Project Areas A, B & C



450 acres of NFVW-NW accomplishment


Project /Area E:

Fuels reduction treatment areas.

Treatment; total treatment accomplishment: i.e. 25% over 2005


Follow-up treatment/monitor previous projects.

150 acres



520 acres of NFVW-NW accomplishment.

* Treatment efforts when budgets allow will incorporate contractors along road systems and accessible trail systems. Force account inventory, treatment, and monitoring crews will concentrate on Level 1 roads, both motorized and non motorized trails, wilderness, back country, and roadless areas.

3) Road and Trail Invasive Species Inventory Schedule
Table 2:

Roads: Primary Inventory/ Treatment timetable


Road/Trail Number

Primary watch species


Coordinate with State/County Plans

  • Highway 114 from Saguache to North Pass

  • Highway 160 and 149

Black Henbane

Russian Knapweed

Canada Thistle

Oxeye Daisy

Downy brome (cheat grass), etc.

Tall and short Whitetop

Inventory & treatment

  • FDR 250 Conejos Peak RD

  • Saguache County Road 41G

  • FDR 380 Park Creek Road

  • FDR 360 Beaver Creek

  • FDR 523 Middle Creek Road on Divide RD

  • FDR 787 Saguache Park Road

Yellow toadflax

Canada thistle

Oxeye daisy

Cheat grass

2 species of white top

Every Other Year

List Planned treatment ;

To be determined after inventory efforts

  • FDR 122 Chama Basin Road

  • FDR 118Trujillo Reservoir Road

  • FDR 100 & 105 Tobacco Lake Road

  • FDR 260 Silver Lakes Road

  • FDR 271 Cat Creek

  • La Jara Reservoir Road FDR 240

  • FDR 410/430 Hunter Lake Road

Yellow toadflax

Canada thistle

Oxeye daisy

Cheat grass

2 species of white top

Every Third Year

List Critical Monitoring /Inventory needs for low-use roads

  • Identified during inventory efforts – comprehensive list will be compiled by 2009.

  • Como Lake Road

  • FDR 248 Jim Creek Road

  • FDR 249 Bancos Road

Black Henbane

Russian Knapweed

Canada Thistle

Oxeye Daisy

Downy brome (cheat grass)

Yellow toadflax

2 species of white top, etc.

Where responsibility lies with CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) and the 6 San Luis Valley counties, identify needed coordination with the appropriate agency to ensure completion of roadside detection and treatment according to the identified schedule. Work on a local management plan for inventory, monitoring, and treatments of invasive aquatic species and Law enforcement needs to enforce upcoming legislative state and federal laws pertaining to invasive aquatic species.

  1. Road and Trail Invasive Inventory Schedule

Table 3:

Trails: Priority Inventory/ Treatment timetable


Road/Trail Number

Primary watch species


Heaviest Used trails to include but not limited to:

  • Sangre de Cristo Wilderness high use trails

  • Ute Creek Trail

  • Rock Lake Trail

  • Rio Grande Reservoir (Aquatics)

  • Road Canyon Reservoir (Aquatics)

  • Continental Reservoir (Aquatics)

  • Beaver Creek Reservoir (Aquatics)

Currently in San Luis Valley-Musk thistle, tamarisk, Russian olive, leafy spurge, and Eurasian milfoil. Zebra mollusk currently found in Pueblo Reservoir.

Every Other Year

Moderately Used Trails

  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and Colorado Trail on all three Districts

  • Middle Creek Trail on Saguache

  • Elk Creek Trail on Conejos Peak

  • South Fork of the Conejos

  • La Garita Creek ATV trail

See priority list section 1b.

Every Third Year

Seldom used trails.

See priority list section 1b.

  1. Adequacy of Existing Invasive Species Inventories & Data Base

Prior to 2006 the current inventory and data base, was inadequate but the best available at the time. A major effort to use GEO Explorer GPS units with common FS and BLM Data Dictionaries, a successful contractor, and increased district efforts to accurately map infestation sites has resulted in an improved data base to build upon in the future.

Table 4 outlines the plan to increase the involvement and increase the usefulness of weed data that is collected as part of the Invasive Species Treatment and Inventory program.

Table 4: *


Data sets to inventory/evaluate/monitor

Action / Who

FY 2008-2010

Use of two interdisciplinary weed crews to monitory treatment, inventory new locations and treat infestations. As funding allows.

Dario Archuleta coordinator/two 2 person multi-financed crews to work the Forest and BLM Public Lands within the SLV.

Spring 2008

Ensure counties are aware of required fields for USFS inventory and supply with data dictionaries as needed

Kelly Garcia- Conejos County

Tristram Post-Rio Grande County

Dario Archuleta- Saguache County


Baca Lands- newly acquired

Inventory/Saguache Ranger Distinct


Sheep range country between Conejos Peak and Divide Ranger Districts and the San Juan National Forest.

Inventory La Jara/Divide Ranger Districts.


Inventory/monitor lakes and streams within the SLV PLC for threats to valley’s water ways.

Currently in San Luis Valley- tamarisk, Russian olive, and Eurasian milfoil. Zebra mollusk currently found in Pueblo Reservoir.


Remote part of district or other unknown situations

All three districts and Field Offices.

*Maps included in Appendix A, Map 1 and 2.

  1. Plans for Increased Coordinated Weed Management Activity

Include a short narrative here about key partnerships needing USFS involvement. Where no partnerships exist, what proactive measures should the Forest take to initiate or establish routine coordination with its partners, State, Federal, private landowner groups:

Table 5:


Partnership Activity



  • Continue existing cooperative relationship with San Luis Valley (SLV) Coordinated Noxious Weed Committee by involvement in annual coordination meeting, (i.e.: May & Nov. annually).

  • Partner with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 100th Meridian committee and Upper Rio Grande Basin Aquatic species committee.

  • Increase SLV activity by encouraging i.e. SLV Cattleman’s, Outfitter Guides, to attend.

  • Work toward higher level of involvement with CDOT, water boards, railroad, counties.

  • Incorporate into Conservation Education Program.

Dario Archuleta-Project Lead

Gary Snell-Program Lead (FS/BLM)

Mike Blakeman Public Affairs/Education Specialist


  • Organize/ attend annual meeting to improve coordination with counties

  • Request involvement of other neighbors

  • Coordinate with adjoining Forests for inventory efforts and treatment

District Weed Coordinator Archuleta


  • Distribute invasive ornamental and aquatic species brochures at key visitor points, towns, municipalities’ homeowners’ assoc.

Mike Blakeman/District VIS/Weed Coordinators

  1. Identify needed efforts to address invasive specie at administrative sites

Table 6:



Problem to Address


La Jara, Alamosa, Saguache admin. sites and horse pastures.

Inventory for Russian Olive, tamarisk, Russian knapweed; and tall and short whitetop species. Plan for initial treatments.


Divide RD Office, Saguache RD Office, Administrative sites and horse pastures

Removal of all Russian olive trees at Divide RD/FO administrative site, with goal for complete removal by 2009. Treat Downy brome (cheat grass) at Saguache Office.


Monte Vista Admin site

Inventory for Russian knapweed, tall whitetop; More treatments; work with neighbors.


Educate internals, coordinate with ranger, landlord, etc

Provide treatment at inventoried administrative sites in 2008-2009 education to be conducted by Mike Blackman and Dario Archuleta.


Inventory remaining administrative sites, pastures, corrals and bone yards by District

Complete inventories by 2008. Utilize force account weed crews.

  1. Assessment and Development of Organizational Capacity:

Invasive Species program responsibilities are too often assigned as “collateral duties.” While this may be appropriate on some units, on many others it is inadequate. The result is that many programs are unable to respond with effective programs. National Forests and Grasslands within R-2 will strive to achieve adequate staffing and skills to plan and implement effective programs.

1) Current staffing and responsibilities; assign role of Unit Invasive Species Coordinator for each unit. All weed duties are collateral, with individuals having primary responsibility within unit Range Programs. The exception is Dario Archuleta; a significant portion of his time is financed with weed program dollars.

Table 7:





Gary Snell

Program Leadership


Dario Archuleta

Project leader, Valley-wide Coordination with SLV Counties, Partners, Grants, Training, FS and BLM, etc,


Kelly Garcia

District Program Lead; Liaison with Conejos County etc


Tristram Post

District Program Lead; Liaison with Rio Grande, Mineral County, Hinsdale County etc.


Mark Swinney

District Program Lead; Liaison with Saguache County, etc

    1. Narrative: Discuss gaps in capability to conduct implement strategy elements and meet the planned program of work from Table in #2 above.

The integration of the FS and BLM weed programs within the San Luis Valley into one program has identified several major problems that must be overcome in order to consistently accomplish targets with the Public Lands Center.

  1. These gaps include the decreasing NFVW and 1020 budgets and the increasing treatment cost for both agencies.

  2. The rapidly increasing spread of weeds within the valley has stretched the budget and staff to their limits.

  3. Current funding is inadequate to fund the necessary NEPA that was approved in 1996 for the Rio Grande National Forest and the BLM needs an updated NEPA document which would tier to the current 17 western states EIS, for the treatment of weeds on pubic lands. These deficiencies both need addressed but in order to do so, may well result in the stoppage of all treatment practices within the PLC for at least one season. There is no money at present from the Regional Office or the BLM State Office to fund NEPA. Funding from other benefiting functions may be the only way to fund the necessary NEPA while still maintaining an aggressive treatment program within the PLC.

    1. What additional staffing needed to accomplish #2 above,

      1. Ideally, each District would be staffed with a PPT Range Technician with weed program responsibilities for inventory and treatment.

      2. The weed group is discussing the possibility of multi-financing a resource clerk who is skilled in grant writing, and databases including INFRA, NRIS, and FACTS. If funding is available this opportunity will be pursued. Other potential funding sources include GOCO, RMEF, Wild Turkey Federation, and Trout Unlimited through grants to increase program funding. Currently funding, grant writing skills, and the range workload are all hampering our ability to focus efforts on going after these potential funding sources.

    1. Address current situation and future foreseeable developments that may affect existing workload capabilities

      1. Continuing reduction in rangeland management staffing.

      2. Continued steady reduction in NFVW, NFRG, and 1020 budgets.

      3. Multi-level overhead taps reduce overall budget available for inventory and treatment.

      4. Range analysis and NEPA workload required by Rescissions Schedule.

      5. Continued emphasis on Healthy Forest Initiative and fuels treatments.

      6. The need to update 1996 EA for Management and Control of Noxious Plants on the San Juan/Rio Grande National Forests.

      7. Inadequate funding of one of the Chief’s Four Threats as it applies to the approximately 1.8 million acres within the San Luis Valley Public Lands Center.

  1. Identify funding sources for the Unit’s Invasive program of work, from Item #2. Incorporate into program budget planning.

    1. NFVW, KV, Fire Plan funding, RBRB, FHP, grants, etc.

    1. Identify the cost in NFS dollars vs. Partnership dollars.

Partnership dollars requires an individual with the time and skills to successfully go after these partners and/or their dollars. The complexities of the range workload do not allow for adequate time or resources to pursue these dollars.

    1. Identify Program outputs possible with a 10% funding increase.

1) A 10% increase in funding would allow equipment upgrades to Regionally required UTV’s and associated spray rig attachments. However, UTV’s currently cost $9,000-$11,000 per unit; this is a significant portion of available budget dollars.

2) The need to address the NEPA for both the FS and BLM will require a significant amount of the PLC’s weed budget to get back into full compliance with NEPA.

Table 8:


























































*BLM funding is not included in this table as it is used to accomplish BLM targets only.

Cost per acre is less for KV due to close proximity of all weed infestations within a particular timber sale. However overall travel time and mileage to timber sales can be high. Grants and other since we use NFVW-NW to pay most of the administrative cost for treatment, inventory and monitoring (cost figured at $138.00/acre based on FY2006 actual cost/acre by 2010 costs are estimated to be $170.00 per acre due to increased cost of contracting/fuel/chemical/force account crews/oversight of program. As backcountry inventories are completed treatment cost per acre will significantly increase within these areas due to poor accessibility and the increased time necessary to access these new sites by either contractor(s) or force account crews. At this time we will look for “Other” funding sources to inventory, treat, and monitor additional acres will be pursued at that time. A continued commitment to Service First will allow joint efforts to address Invasive Species on all FS/BLM public lands located within the San Luis Valley. BLM funding is not included in this table as it is used to accomplish BLM targets only.

The Rio Grande NF is a member of the San Luis Valley Noxious Weed Committee with members including the BLM, CSU Extension Service, USF&WS, CDOW, Rural Community and Development, 5 of the 6 county weed and water boards, The Nature Conservancy, and interested publics. The counties are largely funded by federal and state grants, which in most cases can’t be used directly on federal lands. The FS has competed in the past for grant dollars, with money going toward inventory and treatment, but dollar amounts have been small.
Prior to 1999, the Forests’ weed program was jointly funded by all benefiting functions as a part of doing business. With this multi funding from a large number of BLI’s the Forest weed program was funded at $100,000 per year. After 1999, leadership modified funding for the weed program, moving it to the NFVW BLI. Weeds were assumed to be a “Range Program problem”. The timber program provides some multi-financing of the weed program through KV funds. The continued decline in NFVW funds over the last 3 years has reduced weed funding from $78,000 FY2006 to $38,000 in FY2008. Costs have risen from $60.00/acre treated to $140.00/acre treated in 2007. We are not winning the battle even while trying to be more efficient. New weeds are coming into the San Luis Valley, for example Downy Brome (Cheat grass) has expanded from less than 50 acres in 2003 to well over 500 acres in 2007. The drought of 2002 may have allowed cheatgrass a competitive edge.
Unknown factors relating to the projected target accomplishments for the next three years include the impact of rising fuel, chemical expenses, and shrinking budgets. Treatment acres may decrease, as contract cost increases. Treatment cost per acres whether contract or Force Account cost has increased a minimum of 10% per year between 2004 and 2007. A larger increase is expected in 2008.

  1. Validation Monitoring of the Action Plan and Summary of Past Years Activities:

    1. Assess the validity and effectiveness of the Unit’s Invasive Species Action Plan, based on population trends of major invasive plant species. Are the assumptions and guidance of the Forest/Grassland’s Invasive Species Action Plan correct, and can we accomplish our long-term objective if we follow the Plan? The results of this assessment should dictate three-year revisions of the Action Plan.

As NFVW funding continues to decline we will be challenged each year to meet targets and keep our certification training up to date. Contract costs are continually increasing due to rising fuel costs, chemical costs, and a limited number of contractors willing to bid on the SLV PLC contracts. Reductions in seasonal staffing will adversely impact the use of force account crews to accomplish all aspects of weed inventory, treatment, and monitoring that will occur on the PLC.

    1. Identify strengths and successes, and prescribe corrective actions.

The FS and BLM programs have been combined into one Invasive Species program this includes combining budgets to increase the size and scope of a single contract, increasing the appeal to a contractor to bid on the north half of the San Luis Valley. A part time Valley wide weed coordinator is funded, duties include training, contract preparation, monitoring of treatment for both agencies, etc. To date we have no suggestions for corrective actions as 2008 is the first year of implementation.

    1. Cost for this activity will be taken from NFVW-NW and BLM 1020 dollars and any other funding source that may become available to the Forest/Districts/BLM.

BLM Program Elements will be used to fund BLM treatment areas but crews and the Valley-wide weed coordinator (Dario) will be funded jointly.

    1. Include in this Action Plan Inventory, treatment, containment, and eradication maps to be used for the next 3 year period of this plan.

Maps 1, 2, & 3 are located in Appendix A. As inventory and treatments are completed, these maps will be updated into this document. The maps can also be found on the Rio Grande Intranet Website under Local, Range, and then go to Range and Invasive Species.

Appendix A

Map 1: Noxious Weed Inventory Map for the San Luis Valley Public Lands Center and Valley Floor up to 2006.

Map 2: Noxious Weed Treatment Map for the San Luis Valley Public Lands Center up to 2007.

Map 3: San Luis Valley Public Lands Center Noxious Weed Containment and Eradication Map 2008-2010.

* Additional maps such as needed for aquatic inventory and monitoring purposes will be added as the information becomes available.
** The above maps can also be found on the Rio Grande Intranet Website under Local, Range, and then go to Range and Invasive Species.
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