By David F. Rooney
Representatives from environmental groups, Parks Canada, BC Hydro, the BC Hydro, the Ministries of Transportation and Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and municipal governments across the Columbia Shuswap Regional District met in Revelstoke on Thursday to formally establish a district-wide organization dedicated to controlling invasive species.
“We’re looking for a coordinated and cooperative approach to dealing with invasive plants,” said Hamish Kassa, chairman of the newly formed Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society, said during the meeting at Revelstoke’s Community Centre.
Invasive species are recognized as having a very real and growing impact on the general environment and the economy. And some are vefry toxic to humans and other mammals
CSISS aims to “educate and engage the general public, private landowners, land and aquatic managers, first nations and others about invasive species and their impact.”
Dozens of alien plants have taken root in CSRD over the last few decades and more are on their way, often hitchhiking their way here on trucks, cars and trains. Some others are imported as ornamental plants and then spread from people’s gardens.
Local ecologist Francis Maltby gave a presentation entitled A Citizen’s Approach to Ecological Management of Invasive Plants: Your Yard and Your Community. Please click here to read Maltby’s presentation.
“I am a habitat guy,” he told the group. “I’m interested in the physical conditions that create and sustain habitats for various organisms — both plants and animals. I’m interested in how organisms are affected by changes — good or bad — in the physical conditions of their habitats.”
Maltby, who took CSISS members on a tour of the garden where he puts his principles to work, said allowing a plants freedom to grow with our intensive grazing or mowing actually keeps incursions by weeks such as tall buttercup and dandelions to a minimum. However, if you continually mow your lawn you actually encourage the growth and spread of weeds because they begin reproducing more rapidly than they otherwise might.
Maltby said intensive grazing or mowing:
- Stresses desirable plant species, both grasses and broadleaf;
- Reduces densities of desirable species, opening habitat for weeds and invasives;
- Favours certain weeds and invasives, which are better adapted to heavy grazing or mowing.
He said only increased water use, fertilizer and occasional herbicide applications can maintain a homeowner’s desired grass / lawn species’ ability to resist invasive weeds. Here in Revelstoke, the City has a Cosmetic Pesticide Bylaw that prevents, except in certain circumstances, the use of herbicides. Homeowners have to seek alternative methods for maintaining healthy lawns and gardens.
No one knows how many different invasive species exist within the CSRD. So this is a question that the Invasive Species Society is eager to determine as quickly as possible. There already are invasive plant inventories available on the web but none are specific to our region. The provincial government has an invasive plant survey form that can be used to collect data. Please click here to view that form.
As with any new organization CSISS is just getting started and it will take some months before it is operating as efficiently as its members want.
It does have a Mission Statement and a Vision as well as seed funding from the CSRD. Additional funding is available from organizations such as BC Hydro and other corporations that have a stake in this area.
For now CSISS will focus on invasive plant species but there are invasive animal species, such as zebra mussels and quagga mussels, that are just now beginning to make themselves felt here. Both of these creatures are spread — as with Eurasian watermilfoil — by boats that have not been properly dried and cleaned. Consequently boats that have been used on lakes and waterways where invasive aquatic plants and animals are known to exist can — if they are not properly cleaned, drained and dried — carry mussel ova and foreign aquatic plant previously healthy lakes. Other aquatic organisms considered real threats to BC are: the American bullfrog, carp, largemouth bass, yellow perch, rusty crayfish and a number of other creatures. Please click here to read about BC’s Clean, Drain and Dry program.
Here is a list of the organizations that have been working together to establish the CSISS: the Cities of Revelstoke and Salmon Arm; the Town of Golden; the CSRD; Parks Canada; the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations; the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; BC Hydro, the North Columbia Environmental Society; Wildsight Golden; the Invasive Plant Council of BC; the Illecillewaet Greenbelt Society; Silverwing Ecological Consulting; and Maltby Independent Consulting.
Natalie Stafl of Revelstoke is the society’s executive director. She can be reached at 1-855-PUL-WEED (1-855-785-9333) or, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. A website is now being developed for the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society. A public announcement will be made once that has been completed,.