Like most private landowners in the United States, Philmont began battling invasive weeds decades ago. In 2010, the Ranch hired three seasonal staff members to study and address its specific weed problems. Based in Conservation Department, the three specialists laid down the groundwork of invasive plant research and control on the Ranch.
The Invasive Species Team collects data in order to gain an accurate idea of the spatial distribution of invasive species across Philmont Scout Ranch. Partnering with both participants and other Philmont staff, the Invasive Species team works to both provide education about these species and involvement in collecting information. The data that is collected is then used to provide information to the Ranch for statistical analysis and for the future creation of a control plan of the invasive species found on the property. A day in the life of an Invasive Species Team member could involve either mapping excursions, invasive removal, or office work, which could consist of researching control methods, preparing information for backcountry camps, or writing reports.
The overarching goal of the Invasive Species Team is to inventory known and unknown populations of invasive plants across the ranch and to organize the data in a geographic information system (GIS). The Team uses geographic positioning system (GPS) devices to map the populations of plants, and then submits the data to the Philmont GIS staff. In 2010, they monitored 214.4 miles of invasive plant spreading avenues, or trails, roads, and river corridors. In August of 2010, the Invasive Species Team released biological control agents on two types of plants: spotted knapweed and Canada thistle. The bugs were the spotted knapweed seed head weevils, Larinus minutes/obtusus, spotted knapweed root weevils, Cyphocleonus achates (both released in the Cimarron Canyon), and Canada thistle stem weevils, Hadroplontus litura (released at Miranda and Rich Cabins). The Team also works with volunteers and staff members to remove invasive weeds. In 2010, the Team worked with over 550 volunteers and staff members and complied over 3,000 hours of invasive weed removal.