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Regional district digs in to develop strategy to deal with invasive species

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
February 17th, 2022

One of the greatest threats to biodiversity in the West Kootenay will be dealt with this year.

A detailed regional invasive species plan will be developed this year by Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) staff — with the help of the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS) — to better determine the extent of invasive species on all RDCK owned or leased properties.

According to an RDCK release, “the objective is to implement prevention and management, as well as improve awareness and community engagement.”

Invasive species also have a significant impact on ecosystem health, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers them one of the greatest threats to biodiversity globally.

In the West Kootenay, invasive species are non-native plants — such as knotweed — that do not have natural predators or controls, allowing them to become established. One of the major dangers of a non-native plant or animal species is it can spread quickly and impact the local ecosystem, out competing the native plants and species, noted CKISS.

“Tourism, recreation, agriculture, energy infrastructure and property values are all vulnerable to the impacts of invasive species,” wrote RDCK sustainability planner Paris Marshall Smith in her report to the RDCK board of directors.

Plan objectives

Two years ago the board of directors had asked for a regional invasive species strategy from CKISS that addresses the following objectives:

• invasive species management that is efficient, region-wide and continues over the long-term;

• prevention and early detection and rapid response: control invasive species in the most cost-efficient manner through education, management and outreach; and

• multi-jurisdictional, coordinated planning and treatment.

Source: RDCK board agenda

The plan is not unwarranted. Under the Weed Control Act the RDCK is required as a landholder to “… control noxious weeds growing or located on land and premises, and on any other property located on land and premises, occupied by that person.”

Regional district departments’ invasive species management was inconsistent year to year, noted Marshall Smith in her report, so departmental staff requested clear organizational policy and guidelines that would “enable consistent funding and activity.

“It is therefore recommended that action be taken in 2022 to inventory our properties/lands to understand the full scope of and develop a Regional Invasive Species Implementation Plan to ensure the RDCK is keeping within the bounds of provincial legislation concerning invasive species,” Marshall Smith wrote.

Once it is completed it will be reviewed annually and adjusted to address any changes and major issues, with metrics to gauge the plan’s progress.

By the numbers

Across the regional district there are 93 properties to be inventoried, which works out to an average of $386 per location.

Overall, $35,972.82 is budgeted to inventory RDCK lands. Parks holds the largest slice of the budget ($19,502.80) because of the scale of lands to be inventoried, noted Marshall Smith.

In addition to the inventory costs, there is a cost for developing the Regional Invasive Species Implementation Plan itself ($8,500).

Draft strategy

A draft strategy was written outlining four goals for both RDCK and private lands:

• improve regional organizational capacity;

• implement prevention and management;

• develop a legal and policy framework; and

• improve awareness and community engagement.

Source: RDCK board agenda

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