Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

FortisBC Sponsors INVASIVES2023 Forum

Preparing for the first in-person INVASIVES 2023 Forum since 2020 has truly been a labour of love. Staff have unpacked their live event planning expertise, and in many cases, discovered a whole new range of skills as they gear up to host ISCBC’s 18th Annual Forum in New Westminster, BC February 28th – March 1st, 2023.

The success of an event like this, depends heavily on the generous support of our sponsors, and ISCBC is incredibly thankful to our Take Action Sponsor: FortisBC!

Serina Swanson, Environmental Program Lead, has worked in the Sustainability and
Environment department at FortisBC
for the past four years. Her focus is
environmental protection and
management around their electric
infrastructure and hydroelectric dams.
She works closely with their
operations teams to ensure
environmental management best
practices are implemented in both
operations and project works.

“As an energy provider across the province, FortisBC continually looks for ways to protect the natural spaces and biodiversity in and around our infrastructure. This includes being aware of and preventing invasive species from entering and disrupting our local ecosystems,” said Serina.

“We want to prevent zebra and quagga mussels from entering any of our waterways because they could clog intake structures. If mussels were to attach themselves to parts of our infrastructure, the result would be less water flowing through our dams, potential damage, and a severe impact on the reliability of the electricity system due to unplanned outages.”

As an example, this is the intake structure at Parker Dam on the Colorado River, which is
clogged by a zebra and quagga mussel infestation. FortisBC takes action to prevent this
from happening to our hydroelectric infrastructure along the Kootenay Lake/River system.
Credit: Parker Dam

This could easily have been the case in 2021, as zebra mussels were discovered in a shipment of moss balls for aquariums sold in BC. It was a close call for BC waterways, and a good lesson to share on proper disposal practices.

Zebra mussels were discovered in a shipment of moss balls for aquariums in 2021. Photo credit: Government of BC
Zebra mussels are an aquatic invasive species that can significantly impact the natural environment and species in the surrounding areas where they are introduced. Photo credit: The United States Fish and Wildlife Service

“Luckily no mussels entered into our waterways, but it was a good reminder for aquarium owners to never dump the contents of their aquariums into natural waterways or drains,” said Serina. “Proper disposal of aquatic plants is to dry and freeze them and add them to household garbage.”

FortisBC also does its part to remove invasive species during maintenance projects on its gas infrastructure. On a recent project, Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) bushes were removed, and restorative efforts made by replanting the disturbed area with native plants.

Last year, FortisBC restored the surrounding area around one of its gas transmission lines
by removing Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) bushes and planting native plants.

Working collaboratively with organizations across the province, FortisBC helps raise awareness about invasive species and their impacts. Being sponsors for the INVASIVES2023 Forum is a natural fit.

“This is a great opportunity to help support the positive work of ISCBC and to support an event that brings people together to connect again. With a diverse group of speakers showcasing leading-edge research and information on invasive species, this is a great way to bring so many people together and learn from each other,” said Serina.

“Taking action against invasive species is a collective effort in preventing and managing invasive species. It’s important to continue to learn and understand how we can do better to ensure our prevention efforts are successful. We’re excited to have some of our employees attend this event and be able to learn from the knowledge being shared by everyone.”

While at INVASIVES2023 stop by the FortisBC sponsor’s table and meet Amy Duncan, Terrestrial Biologist at FortisBC who is actively involved in FortisBC’s terrestrial invasive species management. Amy has a wealth of knowledge and experience in aquatic invasive species management, supporting FortisBC’s zebra and quagga mussel monitoring and prevention efforts.

Thank you, FortisBC!