Invasive Species

A close up picture of crested wheat grass with the blue sky in the background

An invasive species is defined as a non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic, environmental harm, or harm to human health.  Invasive species can be plants, animals, or other organisms.  Human actions are the primary means of invasive species introductions.

Why We Care
Over 2.5 million acres of the National Wildlife Refuge System are infested with invasive plants.  Invasive species directly affect native plant communities and wildlife habitat by changing biological diversity and altering ecosystem function.  Control and management of invasive species continue to be a priority for refuge management.
Management of invasive plants, nonnative plants, and noxious weeds has been an issue throughout the refuge complex for many years.  Nonnative grasses, forbs, and woody species are of concern because they can diminish the quality and suitability of habitat and reduce its potential to support many native wildlife species.  Nonnative grasses often develop into a monoculture.  Invasive species spread easily, replace native habitat, reduce diversity, and cause great expenditure of financial and human resources.

Invasive Species on the Refuge 
Invasive species that present management challenges on Benton Lake NWR include: crested wheatgrass, Garrison creeping foxtail, Kentucky bluegrass, Japanese brome, and cheatgrass.  Noxious weeds are present in very limited areas and are treated with herbicide whenever located.  Efforts are currently underway to map species that cover large areas of the refuge (crested wheatgrass, Garrison creeping foxtail, and Japanese brome).  Management plans will be developed to reduce the prevalence of these species and increase the vigor and productivity of the refuge's native grassland.


What You Can Do 

  • Drive only on established roads and trails away from weed infested areas.
  • When using pack animals, carry only feed that is certified weed free.
  • Within 96 hours before entering backcountry areas, feed pack animals only food that is certified weed free.
  • Remove weed seeds from pack animals by brushing them thoroughly and cleaning their hooves before transporting.
  • If you find a few weeds without flowers or seeds, pull them and leave them where found.  If flowers or seeds are present, place the weeds in a plastic bag or similar container and burn them in a safe place.
  • If you find a weed infested area, let the landowner or managing agency know so that they can take steps to control the weeds.