By Erin Knutson
Special to The Pioneer
The local ecology of the Columbia Valley is under attack from attractive but deadly alien species invasive plants. Invasives, as they are commonly referred to, are a stubborn nuisance and pose serious issues to the balance and maintenance of a healthy ecological system.
The most pervasive issues involve aquatic areas. Once these plants have made it to the water theyre here for good, commented Todd Larsen, program co-ordinator at the East Kootenay Invasive Plants Council. Importance on treatment, prevention, and early detection are key to combatting the noxious species.
The emergence of foreign plant life in the Columbia Wetlands is cause for a stir amongst interventionists, habitat conservationists, environmentalists, and concerned residents.
Concerned interventionist groups are banding together to eradicate the dangerous new inhabitants, create public awareness, and showcase heroic efforts by specialists in the fight to preserve the integrity of the wetlands including the East Kootenay Invasive Plants Council, Wildsight-Golden, and the Columbia Valley Invasive Plants Neighbourhood program.
The native plant ecology of the Columbia Wetlands is under threat from invasive species, said Rachel Darvill, event co-ordinator and Program Manager with Wildsight-Golden, in a formal press release.
Wildsight-Golden is orchestrating a strike against the troublesome pests on Thursday, July 31st in Radium Hot Springs between 9 a.m. and noon. Volunteers will be coming out with gloves on and a healthy desire for weed pulling to help yank out invasive plants from endangered sites at Sinclair Creek. Participants will be meeting at the Sinclair Creek Trailhead and will be provided with a free lunch and all necessary extraction equipment.
Radiums Community Weed Pull will be a surgical strike against invaders like Common Tansy with its tough seeds that remain viable for decades, and Field Scabious, a nasty invader new to the area, according to the release. Invasive plant reduction is an ongoing process that demands prioritizing areas. These infestations are relatively close to the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area and we dont want it to spread into that sensitive wetland ecosystem.
Members of the East Kootenay Invasive Plants Council will be on site to help identify species for the volunteers.
This year marks the third in a series of weed pulling events at Sinclair Creek. Organizing volunteer events is helping to diminish the invaders and a dramatic reduction in the amount of Common Tansy at Sinclair Creek is being noted. Tansy Seeds have a certain amount of longevity and can remain in the soil for up to 25 years.
Although these species can be attractive, according to biologists there are a number of undesirable effects from their presence, including the destruction of wildlife habitat, degradation of the scenic beauty of the landscape, disruption of recreation activities, ruining agricultural areas, reducing biodiversity and degrading water quality.
Many people have invasive plants growing unknowingly in their own backyards some are very attractive plants, in fact many first came to Canada through the horticultural trade, but with no natural predators they steal space, moisture and nutrients from native plants, said Ms. Darvill.
The Radium Weed Pull will help educate the public on the difference between noxious weeds and innocuous ones and will give people the knowledge to fight invasives in their own backyards.
Invasive plants are spreading rapidly and we need to help stop the spread, Ms. Darvill said.
All weed pull volunteers requiring more information, or anyone interested in helping in the fight against invasives, should contact Ms. Darvill at 250-344-4961 or rachel@Wildsight.ca.