Submitted to: Invasive Plant Science and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/19/2014
Publication Date: 4/1/2015
Citation: Smith, B.S., Sheley, R.L. 2015. Implementing strategic weed prevention programs to protect rangeland ecosystems. Invasive Plant Science and Management. 8(2):233-242. doi: 10.1614/IPSM-D-13-00075.1.
Interpretive Summary: Preventing weed infestations from occurring is recognized as a cost effective strategy for managing invasive plants. However, weed prevention programs are not regularly implemented. We developed a standardized terminology and a weed prevention flow model framework for land managers to implement strategic prevention programs. The model directs users to develop a program through interlinked steps of education, early detection and eradication and interruption of propagule movement. As a case study we collaborated with a working ranch to implement a prevention plan using this model. Providing land managers a strategic method from which to develop implementable prevention programs will aid in keeping land free of infestations of invasive plants
Technical Abstract: Weed prevention is recognized as one of the most cost effective management strategies for invasive plants. A paradigm shift from traditional efforts aimed at controlling established infestations to proactive management before infestations occur is evident in practice and in the literature. However, land managers are still somewhat reluctant to aggressively employ prevention programs. Part of this reluctance could be because of a lack of understanding in what a comprehensive prevention program entails. Our goal is to provide a framework to improve strategic decision-making for prevention programs. We first define a set of key terminology for implementing a prevention program and then propose a flow model to clarify processes and steps necessary to successfully implement such programs. The flow model begins with goal setting and developing a list of priority species. Next, the model divides prevention into three categories: 1) education, 2) early detection and eradication and 3) interruption of movement. The flow model directs the users through interlinked steps. We provide a case study where a prevention program was implemented using this framework on a ranch scale that effectively prevented the spread of an invasive annual grass. With a process from which to conduct strategic planning efforts more widespread adoption and successful implementation of invasive plant prevention programs should ensue. This model can also be helpful in outreach and education programs for weed prevention areas or for extension programs that are focused on creating proactive management of invasive plants by conveying how to plan a comprehensive weed prevention program.