Group leads battle against invasive weed

Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee has received $49,500 to battle the invasive weed Eurasion water milfoil

There’s good weed and there’s bad weed.

And the bad ones are non-native plants that threaten to proliferate in local waters, causing inestimable damage to the region’s ecosystem, according to the Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee (CKIPC).

But now there’s good money going after the bad weed as the CKIPC recently received a chunk of change from the province to nip the bad in the bud, including the Greater Trail’s public enemy number one: Eurasian water milfoil.

Although the committee won’t be using all of their $49,500 to fight the good fight in the region against the non native, invasive aquatic species, they are raising awareness for users of the Columbia River and Champion Lakes to help stop its spread.

The committee is continuing with its prevention awareness campaign for recreation users of those bodies of water— as well as Christina Lake and the Kootenay River—promoting “Clean drain and dry before leaving a water body or entering a new one,” said Crystal Klym, CKIPC program manager.

“One of the biggest problems with Eurasian milfoil is that is can be transported throughout lakes and river systems by boats and recreationalists.

Little bits can be caught on the motor and then transported from one body to another,” she said.

“So if folks can just have a look at the bottom of their boat to make sure it is clean of plants, that would help stop its spread.”

Eurasian water milfoil can grow from broken off stems which increases the rate in which the plant can spread and grow.

The challenge with an invasive species like Eurasian water milfoil in general is that, once it is introduced into a region, it can spread quite rapidly and then displace native plants and animals, impeding recreation by clogging waterways and beaches, and choking boat propellers.

Invasive plants like Eurasian water milfoil have the potential for considerable economic or environmental damage by disrupting natural ecosystems, reducing biodiversity, increasing soil erosion, altering soil chemistry and adversely affecting commercial crops.

“With no known predators, prevention is the best action,” said Klym.

Eurasian water milfoil is a species of freshwater aquatic plant native to Europe, Asia and north Africa. It is a submerged aquatic plant, and grows in still or slow-moving water. In lakes or other aquatic areas where native aquatic plants are not well established, the Eurasian plant can quickly spread.

Although it is a priority on the aquatic invasive species list for 2012 for CKIPC, the plant is under containment but with some established infestations such as the Columbia River.

The Invasive Plant Program identifies locations of invasive plant species and responds rapidly to contain and eradicate newly discovered invasive plant species before they become established and begin spreading in B.C.

Some of the most intrusive plants in B.C. currently are orange and yellow (non-native) hawkweeds, garlic mustard, cordgrasses and knotweed. Other targeted species include knapweed, giant hogweed, common tansy and Scotch broom.

To learn more:• Invasive Alien Plant Program: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/plants/index.htm• Invasive Species Council of British Columbia: http://www.bcinvasives.ca