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Invasive plant “Knot” welcome in Trail

JL Crowe Work Experience Students controlling Knotweed.

Supported by funding from the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) and led by the Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee (CKIPC), the students and other partners took action to remove the knotweed infestation east of Trail, along Casino Road. With partnership from the Native Plant Study Group and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the project will also include restoration of the site with native plants.

 

Students from J.L. Crowe Secondary School along with many partners took action this week to remove a highly invasive plant from along the Columbia River. The culprit is Japanese knotweed, also known as Japanese bamboo or Mexican bamboo, and it can quickly choke out native species and reduce biodiversity.

“As the plant has a root system that does not provide adequate bank stabilization the whole plant collapses in late fall exposing stream and river banks to further risk of erosion, thereby affecting aquatic and fish habitat,” said CKIPC Project Coordinator Jennifer Vogel. “A big concern is the spread of this plant to riparian areas downstream from the Old Trail Bridge, including within the Fort Shepherd Conservation Area. Early detection and eradication of this invasive plant is critical if we are to have any success in controlling it.”

The infestation along Casino Road is approximately half a hectare in size and growing each year. Although significant in size, the infestation is still deemed manageable to deal with as long as action is taken now. Other invasive plants such as spotted knapweed and St. John’s wort have become too prolific to eradicate in the West Kootenay and instead are treated with biocontrol agents to manage populations.

Local wildlife and native plants are not the only potential losers from its spread. “Knotweed can grow through small cracks in pavement or concrete, thereby reducing the structural integrity of affected structures,” added Vogel. “It can even push up through thick asphalt and has the ability to impact building foundations and retaining walls. There is a potentially huge burden on tax payers to deal with this if we don’t take action now.”

“We are certainly excited to be supporting this project, especially given the active participation of the students” said FWCP Wildlife Biologist and crew lead, John Krebs. “Every summer the FWCP hires youth to restore habitat, including invasive weed control, so this project is a really a good fit for us.” The FWCP works on behalf of its program partners BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife affected by the creation of BC Hydro dams.

”Our students really gain a lot from hands-on projects like this,” said Norm Marchie from J. L. Crowe Secondary. “They get to learn more about the importance of biodiversity and how nature’s balance can be easily disrupted and, most importantly, take direct action to help the local ecosystem.”

For more information on the Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee and its projects, contact 250-352-1160 or coordinator@kootenayweeds.com and visit fwcp.ca for more information on fish and wildlife compensation programs.