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Brilliant flowers mark invasive plants

Beautiful though it may be, yellow flag iris is an invasive species in the Okanagan, where it invades wetlands and chokes out native species. - Doug Farrow/contributor
Beautiful though it may be, yellow flag iris is an invasive species in the Okanagan, where it invades wetlands and chokes out native species.
— image credit: Doug Farrow/contributor

As yellow flag iris lights up local wetlands and Dame’s Rocket shows off in brilliant drifts of mauve blooms, it’s hard to imagine that such cheerful, brilliant colour is the result of an invasive plant taking over native vegetation.

In fact, both are good examples of garden plants that have seeded themselves successfully in natural areas and now their growth and the expansion of their territory knows no bounds.

The Central Okanagan Regional District received $15,500 this spring as part of $1.7 million in provincial government grants toward control of the spread of invasive plants.

It will be used to provide additional educational and outreach opportunities with property owners, groups and organizations outside the regular bylaw enforcement program, to help people identify invasive weeds and provide management options such as biological controls using insects that feed on invasive weeds, explained Bruce Smith, communications officer.

He said the funds will also allow them to coordinate with other regional and provincial weed programs in investigation of reports of new weed invaders for containment and eradication.

Some of this area’s worst invaders have become ‘poster children’ on the backs of a deck of Weed Warrior playing cards which are available free from the regional district to help people identify them. You can pick yours up at the regional district office on KLO Road.

Invasive plants are not native to a particular ecosystem and they have the potential to displace long-established species, causing considerable economic and environmental damage. They can disrupt natural ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, increase soil erosion, alter soil chemistry and adversely affect commercial crops.

“These weeds are sneaky,” commented Rhoda Mueller, chief bylaw enforcement officer for the regional district. “There’s good reason for our bylaw.”

“We’ll come out to identify a plant if need be,” she adds.

If you spot a new invasive, contact the regional district’s weeds line, 24 hours, at 469-6218 or e-mail: weeds@cord.bc.ca

It’s helpful if you include the address or a detailed description of the problem location; information about the owner or occupier of the property, if possible; your concern; and your name, address and phone number so the inspector can contact you for more information if needed.

The Noxious Weed Bylaw is enforced on a complaint basis and dandelions are not considered ‘weeds.’

For more information, go to the regional district’s weed page at: http://www.regionaldistrict.com/departments/inspections/inspections_noxweeds.aspx

The provincial funding is in addition to $714,000 earmarked by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for invasive plant control and management in the current fiscal year.

FLNRO minister Steve Thomson says "The B.C. government is committed to preserving wildlife habitat and protecting the interests of B.C.'s ranching and agriculture industries. When invasive plant species put those values at risk, we must take decisive action to deal with that threat."

Tom Wells is chair of the Invasive Species Council of B.C. and says by stopping the spread of such plants future management costs and resource losses are reduced, and natural landscapes are protected. But, everyone needs to work together to achieve success, he added.

Next week is B.C. Invasive Species Week.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

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