Program targets invasive plants

Invasive plants cause millions of dollars of damage each year

Common knapweed

Common knapweed

Invasive Species Action Month has just ended, but British Columbians are being asked to be aware of the issue throughout the year, and work together to stop the environmental damage and economic losses caused by aquatic and terrestrial invasive species.

“It is crucial that British Columbians continue to stop invasive species from spreading in the water, in gardens and agriculture, through firewood, and by keeping unwanted pets out of the wild,” says Gail Wallin, executive director of the Invasive Species Council of BC. “Summer is just around the corner, and with people making plans to spend more time outdoors in nature, it’s the ideal time to take action.”

It is estimated that in B.C. alone, just six invasive plants caused an estimated combined damage of at least $65 million in 2008. With further spread, the impact will more than double to $139 million by 2020.

In the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD), plants such as common knapweed, hounds’ tongue, dalmatian toadflax, leafy spurge, and Canada thistle displace native vegetation and can cause considerable economic and environmental damage. They disrupt natural ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, increase soil erosion, and alter soil chemistry. They can also pose a health risk to humans.

Jamie Vieira, the TNRD’s manager of environmental services, says the Regional District spends $250,000 a year on a program to control noxious weeds. This includes making bio-control insects available to private landowners to help them control weeds.

“It’s a way to treat the problem without herbicides,” says Vieira. “The insects are from the same area of the world that the invasive plants are originally from. We go out and collect them, then re-distribute them.” The fact that the insects are “host specific” means they will not attack native species, or even other weedy species.

The insects target different parts of an invasive plant in order to destroy it: mining the roots and stems, eating the seeds, or defoliating the leaves. Ideal release sites are large infestations of a single species on uncrossed range land. “We’re trying to hit the plants from all angles,” says Vieira.

The program also helps raise public awareness of invasive plant concerns in the region, and surveys invasive plant populations. A recent grant of $20,000 from the provincial government will assist with these efforts.

“Our communities and economy rely heavily on ranching and agriculture,” says Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, “so it’s important that these invasive species are not allowed to become established.”

Vieira says that most of the invasive species found in the TNRD were introduced to the region over the past 50 to 100 years. “Someone thought they were pretty in their native country, and brought them over here.”

All rural landowners, particularly farmers and ranchers, can apply to take part in the TNRD’s bio-control program. Anyone who would like to find out more can visit the website at www.tnrd.ca, or call (250) 377-8673. However, everyone should be aware of, and on the lookout for, invasive plants as they travel throughout the TNRD.

“We encourage people to learn how to get involved in preventing invasive species from taking hold,” says Wallin, “and how to keep them from damaging British Columbia’s environment, economy, and our society.”

Just Posted

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read