Numerous studies have documented the effects of landscape disturbance, including that associated with energy development, on increased abundance of invasive and non-native species. As of February 2012, over 43,000 new petroleum wells have been drilled in the Williston Basin since the first successful Bakken test well drilled in 2000 in the Elm Coulee field of Montana. With the average single well pad approximating five acres, this large scale and regional land disturbance provides a pathway for the introduction and establishment of invasive species throughout the PPP LCC.
The presence of invasive species has biological and economic implications across the PPP LCC. Leafy spurge has been shown to reduce habitat utilization for bison, deer, and elk in western North Dakota and estimated cost for the presence of leafy spurge on
grazing lands alone in the upper Great Plains in $1.29 million, annually. While these examples illustrate the impacts of leafy spurge alone, there are often deleterious impacts associated with all invasive species.
The primary objective of this project is to determine if there is a relationship between the presence and abundance of invasive plant species, manly noxious weeds and perennial forage grasses, associated with the location oil well pads in native prairie environments within the Williston Basin. Additionally, we will analyze oil well pads constructed one, five and ten years ago to evaluate if the age of the oil well is related to an increase in the presence and/or abundance of invasive species related to energy development.
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