Environmental Report

Publication of the Environmental Surveillance, Education and Research  Program

December 2003

New Publications

- 2002 Annual Report

- 2002 Quarterly Reports
- First Quarter
- Second Quarter
- Third Quarter
- Fourth Quarter

What's New on the ESER Website

-   Analyte Fact Sheets

-   Kid's Activity Pages

Desert Species of the Month

An Animal of the High Desert - INEEL's bats

 Desert Species of the Month Archive

Environmental Surveillance:
Focus on
Milk Monitoring

Ingestion of milk is a primary pathway by which radioactive materials released into the atmosphere may reach the offsite population. Milk samples are collected at areas close to the INEEL boundary and distant to the INEEL.



Request a classroom visit 

- Threatened and Endangered Species - Pygmy Rabbits

- Basic GPS

- Plant and Animal Desert Adaptations

- Plants and Animals of the INEEL

- Basic Radiation and Environmental Surveillance

- Careers in Environmental Science

- How Nuclear Reactors Work

- Comparison of Energy Sources and INEEL's Role in the Future of Nuclear Power

-Request Visit

Contact Us

Contact us:
ESER Program
S. M. Stoller Corp.
1780 First Street
Idaho Falls, ID  83401

Crested Wheatgrass Migration on the INEEL

A study conducted during the summer of 2003 was aimed to assess the spread of crested wheatgrass at two known seeding locations on the INEEL in southeastern Idaho. Crested wheatgrass has been used historically to revegetate burns and degraded areas on the INEEL.  The focus of this study was to answer the question "Does seeded crested wheatgrass spread beyond its planting boundaries and invade native sagebrush steppe communities?"

Crested Wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) is a long-lived (15-20 years) perennial bunchgrass native to the cold desert regions of Asia. It was introduced into the United States in 1898, and became extensively planted in the West beginning in the 1930s. Crested Wheatgrass is well-suited to semiarid regions and is primarily used for reclamation/revegetation of rangeland. Historically, the uses include seeding for weed control (halogeton), and for increasing the grazing capacity of an allotment. Many semiarid ecosystems are managed with the assumption that vegetation will return, or converge, to a native community. Some crested wheatgrass seedings, however, have resisted the invasion of native species for as long as 50 years.

The two sites selected for this study were Lincoln Blvd from Mileposts 11-17, and Tractor Flats, about 5 miles north of Highway 20 near the eastern Site boundary. These sites were selected because they have 1) at least one documented Crested Wheatgrass (CWG) seeding, and 2) mapped boundaries to assess the spread from.

The field data were collected with GPS receivers by walking the spreading boundaries. The seeding along Lincoln Blvd was walked in entirety. The Tractor Flat seeding was partially walked, the remainder was interpreted from satellite imagery. The GPS data was corrected and imported into a GIS for analysis.

Preliminary findings indicate that crested wheatgrass does spread beyond its initial seeding extent and invades native grass communities. Several factors influence the rate of spread; these include fire, grazing, and soil type.

This study was funded by BBWI and the ISU Geoscience Department.

Valerie Sheedy

Results of INEEL Monitoring Programs Published in 2002 INEEL ASER  

Each year the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) publishes the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) site environmental report to summarize environmental data, information, and regulations and highlight major environmental programs and efforts. In summary, the results of the monitoring programs for 2002 presented in this report indicate that radioactivity from current INEEL operations could not be distinguished from worldwide fallout and natural radioactivity in the region surrounding the INEEL. Radioactive material concentrations in the offsite environment were below state of Idaho and federal health protection guidelines. Potential doses to the maximally exposed individual and to the surrounding population were well below the applicable regulatory limit and far less than doses resulting from background radiation.

Marilyn Case

Research on the Idaho NERP

The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) was designated as a National Environmental Research Park (NERP) in 1975. The NERP program was established in the 1970s in response to recommendations from citizens, scientists, and members of Congress to set aside land for ecosystem preservation and study. In many cases, these protected lands became the last remaining refuges of what were once extensive natural ecosystems. The NERPs provide rich environments for training researchers and introducing the public to ecological sciences. They have been used to educate grade school and high school students and the general public about ecosystem interactions at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sites; train graduate and undergraduate students in research related to site-specific, regional, national, and global issues; and promote collaboration and coordination among local, regional, and national public organizations, schools, universities, and federal and state agencies.

Ecological research at the INEEL began in 1950 with the establishment of the long-term vegetation transect. This is perhaps DOE's oldest ecological data set and one of the oldest vegetation data sets in the West. Ecological research on the NERPs is leading to planning better land use, identifying sensitive areas on DOE sites so that restoration and other activities are compatible with ecosystem protection and management, and increasing contributions to ecological science in general.

The following ecological research activities took place at the Idaho NERP during 2003:

Roger Blew