From Loon Lake Road – Too much talk, too little action on weeds

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of life and issues along Loon Lake Road.

At least once a year Loon Lake residents are reminded that they are either in no-man’s land or a frontier territory. According to service providers like Telus and BC Hydro, Loon Lake Road is in Clinton. According to Canada Post, Loon Lake Road is in Cache Creek. So when we ask Telus to mail us a telephone directory, which is something all customers are entitled to, we can’t get one because our post office address is Cache Creek but we are asking for the Williams Lake book which includes our exchange. Telus will apparently only send those directories through the Clinton Post Office.

Of course, we are told nobody uses telephone books anymore as everyone uses the internet to look up a number. Um – No, we don’t and many of us do not have internet. If we ask for one through Yellow Pages we are either told they are not available or they say “Yes, they will send one”, but it never arrives. It is impossible to get anyone in Telus to do anything about this as their computer apparently overrules the people. Canada Post staff has tried to help but have run into roadblocks from Telus.

The latest no-man’s land situation is the confusion regarding where Loon Lake Road is concerning the Provincial Fire Centres. While it may seem most logical to many that Loon Lake Road would be within the jurisdiction of the Kamloops Fire Centre, it is not; it is the Cariboo Fire Centre that makes the rules for Loon Lake Road. So while there is a campfire ban in the Kamloops district, there is no campfire ban in effect at Loon Lake Road as I write this (Saturday Aug 1). This situation can change any day and if you want the latest update on our situation regarding campfires it is the Cariboo Fire District you look to for the information. You can find that online at bcwildfire.ca – Cariboo or call the office in 100 Mile at 250 395-7831.

 

While we may be a no-mans land or a “border” area, we still pay plenty of taxes. I read recently in The Journal someone suggesting that property owners at Loon Lake did not pay school taxes.

Just to set the record straight, the provincial assessment authority has no difficulty in finding Loon Lake Road and all properties are taxed for schools, and this means that those who have summer and vacation homes here and a home elsewhere in the province actually pay two sets of taxes for schools. Even property owners living outside of BC must pay school tax on their property.  In the same way we also pay hefty taxes for hospitals and policing even though these services are centred in not-so-nearby towns.

The suggestion that townspeople are the only ones paying for these services is incorrect. Every year the property owners of Loon Lake Road send many thousands of dollars to governments in towns and cities for services based there which we can only access intermittently, if at all.

 

I frequently write about gardening and plants in this column as I enjoy time spent in a garden much more than time spent in front of the TV. Besides, sitting is very bad for your health.

Associated with my joy of gardening and plants is my concern about the loss of plant diversity in nature as invasive weeds take over roadsides and forest lands. In BC we have a law regarding noxious weeds and while millions of dollars are given every year by the government to various invasive species councils across the province, it seems to be a losing battle about the weeds while the councils multiply and grow like bad weeds.

The literature put out by the Invasive Species Councils shows we have now up to five categories of undesirable plants – according to them. There are: provincial noxious weeds, regional noxious weeds, invasive plants, invasive horticulture plants and “unwanted” horticulture plants – in total adding up to about 120 plants. Most locals can’t identify 10 plants, so good luck with that. Fortunately, many of these cannot grow in the cold climate and alkaline soils around here but still enough is enough, and this is too much. I would much prefer to see these councils target a handful of the most problematic weeds and develop strategies to get them under control, including getting BC Ministry of Transport to accept that they must do more to prevent the spread of these weeds along roadsides and into adjacent range lands.

Where I live annual cornflowers, Mountain bluet, Russian olive, Evening primrose and several others are valuable plants that do not spread beyond the cultivated garden. In fact, it is darn hard to get some of these plants to produce seeds and there is no danger that they will invade the neighbouring land. Meanwhile contractors for the BC Ministry of Transport continue to accidentally spread the seeds of knapweed, Dalmatian toadflax and other, more harmful weeds along roadsides. I have seen beautiful mountain meadows that once flowered with showy daisies and penstemons completed overtaken by knapweed.

I think the way to go is develop a list of the “10 most wanted weeds” and concentrate on eliminating these from crown land and roadsides, then target another 10 when that is accomplished. This would be much more effective although the approach requires that someone would actually have to go out on the land and pull weeds, and physical labour is to be avoided it seems, except at the gym. For example, if all knapweed was eliminated from lands held by the provincial government, this would go a long way to improving the diversity of plants and property owners would not have drifts of knapweed seeds moving in from the roadsides every summer when they are mowed.

 

As summer progresses there are signs that early fall is just around the corner. Suddenly a few days ago most of the hummingbirds left. I will miss those little entertainers. After cleaning all the berries off the Nanking Cherry, the robins, tanagers and various warblers have moved on to another garden. The squirrels are busy cutting down fir cones for their winter stockpiles. (They really seem to like to drop those cones from the tree tops onto some kind of metal roof or storage tank and the sound echos across the valley.)

 

It is time to start collecting seeds for next year and it looks like there will be enough to share at various seedy events next spring. Already the first fall bulb catalogue has come in the mail and it is indeed time to start thinking of where to plant some and where the ones already planted are hiding.

Barbara Hendricks

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