East Kootenay Field Tour of Invasive Plants Showcases Successes

IPCBC News Release, June 13, 2008: WILLIAMS LAKE—A field tour of the East Kootenay region on June 10th showcased successes of local invasive plant management projects, with more than 35 participants representing the Invasive Plant Council of BC; local, provincial, and federal government; industry (ranching, agriculture, forestry); regional weed committees; biologists; and naturalists.

Speakers ranged from Parks Canada representatives at Norbury Lake Provincial Park to discuss site management of Leafy Spurge through herbicidal treatments, to bio-control experts assessing Hound’s Tongue containment at the Peckhams Lake Range Unit hydro-line.

Sharing of information was a highlight of the day’s events and included discussion of the East Kootenay Pilot Project. Accomplishments, as described by the Regional Coordinator, Kevin Paterson, include the community Weed Warrior program that to date has 340 out of 5000 sites with “no weeds found.” Many of the sites have improved containment of weeds so that finding them is becoming more difficult - a true sign of victory. Paterson aims to “create treatment across the fenceline,” regardless of jurisdiction, to foster cooperative weed management at a regional level and beyond.

Eradication of large spotted knapweed infestations is underway at Wasa Lake, as illustrated when Val Miller of the Ministry of Forests and Range held up a plant teaming with tiny root-boring weevils that have been downsizing knapweed populations to more tolerable levels since 1997. The long-term goal of the root insects bio-control program is to find less than 200 knapweed seeds per square meter. Results from the Wasa Lake bio-control program may provide the framework for future methods of invasive plant containment around the province.

Invasive plant management is working in the East Kootenays, as contractor for Mountain View Resources, Lee Holm, concluded, “this is your backyard to look after. I’m pretty proud of how our backyard looks. Today you have to look pretty close to find invasive plants.”

Everyone has a role to play in invasive plant management, even ranch owner Hugh McLucki explained that it’s a labour of love and a positive approach that has helped restore his land from the overgrazing of wild horses and wildlife.  Getting ahead of invasive plants meant “really working on it and paying attention,” and is “an investment in time and labour to do it right.” Adding to his viewpoint, Gary Tipper of Nature Conservancy Canada remarked that “noxious weeds are a very huge threat; we need to maintain that which sustains us.”

The field tour was an action-packed day for participants, proving that behind the battle against invasive plants is a positive sense of collaboration and a common objective to protect BC’s economy and ecosystems as well as the public’s health and safety. “After all,” said Miller, “we all share the same sandbox.”

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