Weeding Out the Bad Ones

Trent Ernst, Editor

The Peace River Regional District is getting $228,000 to combat invasive plant species.

That’s part of $1.7-million that the provincial government earmarked to stop the spread of invasive plants.

“Our government is committed to conserving wildlife habitat and protecting the interests of British Columbia’s agriculture and ranching industries. When invasive species threaten those values, we must take decisive action,” says Steve Thomson, minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations.

The BC Peace is one of the province’s agricultural hotbeds, producing over half of BC’s agricultural output.

There are 28 grants being given to local governments, regional invasive species committees and the Invasive Species Council of B.C. to assist their activities and support the objectives of the provincial Invasive Plant Program. This funding is in addition to the $534,000 already earmarked by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations for invasive plant control and management in 2013-14.

Regional invasive species committees, the Invasive Species Council of BC, local governments, provincial government ministries and stakeholders all work together to raise public awareness, survey invasive plant populations and actively treat high-priority sites to control the spread of invasive plants.

Invasive plants are not native to a particular ecosystem and have the potential to displace long-established species. They can cause considerable economic and environmental damage. Invasive plants may disrupt natural ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, increase soil erosion, alter soil chemistry and adversely affect commercial crops.

Some of the most intrusive plants in B.C. are orange and yellow (non-native) hawkweeds, garlic mustard, cordgrasses and knotweed. Other targeted species include knapweed, giant hogweed, black henbane, blueweed, common tansy, tansy ragwort, hoary alyssum, field scabious, leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, yellow flag iris, Himalayan balsam and Scotch broom.

In 2011, the regional district hired 400 goats to graze the Peace Lookout south of Fort St. John to try and eradicate a 14 hectare infestation of Dalmation Toadflax. While they were not as effective as hoped (due to the rain that year, they got on site later than was most effective), the campaign was effective in promoting the problems of invasive species.

Invasive species are not limited to the agricultural areas of the Peace. Invasive species are slowly taking over the wild areas around Tumbler Ridge as well. Along the Murray Forest Service Road towards Monkman Park, there is a large patch of Shasta Daisies. While not generally considered an invasive plant, they are not native to the area and are beginning to take over from native species.

In town, Yellow hawkweed has been found on the corner of Mackenzie Way. And Canada thistle, scentless chamomile and common tansy are all making inroads into