Invasive species not welcome

Twice each year the Boundary Invasive Species Society meets at the Midway Community Hall to plan and review their response to invasives.

Participants at the fall stakeholder meeting of the Boundary Invasive Species Committee meeting last month at the Midway Community Hall.

By Barb Stewart

The Boundary Invasive Species Society held their fall stakeholder meeting in Midway recently to report on what invasive plant management was done this past year and to discuss needs for 2014.

Brenda LaCroix with the Christina Lake Stewardship Society (CLSS) shared the activities completed out at the lake to inform Lake users about the risk of introduction of mussels and other species and what they can do to prevent introduction. Clean, drain, dry your watercraft was the main message.

Under the Controlled Alien Species Regulation it is illegal to have mussels (live or dead) in the province, however very few inspections are being done. The potential impacts of Zebra and Quagga mussels on the lake would be devastating not only to infrastructure (fouling of waterlines, docks, boats) but also to recreation with changes to the fishery and risk of beaches lined with sharp mussels that cut your feet.

With a major recreational border crossing in our area CLSS is being proactive to try to get people complying with the new law. The plan for next year is to expand the awareness program to the rest of the Boundary however without any dedicated funds for aquatic species education, securing funding to do it will be the major challenge.

Don Gayton, well-known grasslands expert, presented on his monitoring results in the Johnstone Creek area grasslands. The area has a long history of knapweed and other weeds. The knapweed has declined in the area with suppression by the bio-control insects but other weeds are increasing even in the ungrazed areas. He suggests that research needs to be done to look into whether pocket gophers, which appear to have quite high populations and cause quite a bit of disturbance with their burrowing, could be the cause. This presentation showed how complicated grassland systems can be and that management is not always as straightforward as you think.

Barb Stewart, Boundary Invasive Species program co-ordinator, presented some highlights from this year including a restoration project out at Boothman’s Oxbow Provincial Park that is being funded by Environment Canada’s Eco-Action Community Funding Program.

The education program including promoting an online youth education program on invasive species with funding from the Phoenix Foundation. She also spoke of the Goats on Weeds workshop held in Grand Forks and provided an update on what is going on around BC with respect to invasive species.

The Boundary Invasive Species Society presented the annual report on management activities this past year. There was an 9 per cent decline in funding for management which is a real concern since six new plant species were found this year and if funds continue to decline it will be more challenging to address both new and existing invasive plants.

An increase in diffuse knapweed was observed throughout our grasslands this summer, which we hope is just a blip in the expected population cycling. Monitoring of knapweed bio-control insects found one of the root boring weevils more widespread than we had thought, which is very good news.

Manual pulling crews removed invasives on over 19 hectares of public land this year including several large patches of yellowflag iris along creeks. Longspine sandbur was found late in the season along the highway in Christina Lake at a new location so crews pulled as much as they could to reduce spread by pedestrians walking along the road. This was a challenging summer for the herbicide contractors since the hot weather limited what work they could do. Overall a lot of work was done. A copy of the annual report will be available at www.rdkb.com under Environment Services.

The Boundary Invasive Species Society is a non-profit registered charity who main focus is to increase awareness of the impacts, provide information on management, and coordinate management efforts to improve invasive species management within the Boundary. For information on our programs contact Barb Stewart at 250-446-2232 or email boundaryinvasives@gmail.com