Removing plants preserves biodiversity

Every year, Wildsight Golden hosts community weed pull events, and this year, thanks to the support of many groups and organizations, the annual event was a large success.

The 11th annual Community Weed Pull included two events. The first was held on June 24, and prioritized invasive plants along the Kicking Horse River.

At the first weed pull, 18 large bags of invasive plants were removed.

The second event focused on the areas around Reflection Lake on July 25. At this event, 15 volunteers pulled invasive species at the motocross track, removing 56 large garbage bags of plants.

“It was quite successful,” said Wildsight Golden’s invasive plant coordinator Jaylene Harper. “Invasive species in general are important to pull.”

After the bags are collected, they are brought to the landfill, where they will be buried still inside the bags.

Although the bagging isn’t the most environmentally friendly, Harper says it is the best way to ensure seeds don’t spread and continue the problem.

Invasive species are a leading cause of lost biodiversity.

They are often able to grow and reproduce rapidly, taking over and changing native landscapes.

When these plants spread, they have potential to impact water quality, wildlife, wildfires, and humans.

“They are called invasive because they take over large areas,” she explained. “Basically, they will wipe out the native plants that were once there. It reduces biodiversity and causes problems for wildlife in the area.”

One of the main plants the volunteers were pulling is burdock.

Sometimes, it grows up to an inch in diametre, and has large Velcro burrs that can stick to animals and humans.

“Often, they can stick to songbirds and bats, and that can be fatal,” Harper said.

It is estimated that in B.C., damages caused by invasive plants amounts to more than $65 million annually. In partnership with the Town of Golden and the Columbia-Shuswap Invasive Species Program, Wildsight Golden’s Community Invasive Plant Program has been working to decrease invasive plant populations through mechanical treatment methods.

Hundreds of volunteers have worked each summer to remove nearly 2,000 bags of invasive plants from the community.

In addition to the annual events, Wildsight Golden is always available for residents to call if they need help identifying invasive plants on their property.

Invasive plant inventories on private land is available to participating community members. Wildsight Golden helps people identify invasive species on their property, and provides residents with information on how to best remove the harmful plants using non-toxic methods.

“I can come to their property for free and let them know what invasive plants they have, and how to remove them,” Harper said.

To get involved, or the learn more about what plants are invasive and how to remove them, call 250-344-5530, or e-mail wildsightweedprogram@gmail.com.

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