Significant progress is being made to manage invasive plant species in the Thompson-Nicola region, as part of a $2.2-million pilot project that began this spring and will continue into 2020.
The pilot project is specifically designed to explore new ways of managing invasive plants over a longer period of time and complements ongoing efforts to contain and eradicate spotted knapweed and other invasive plants on both Crown land and private land in the Interior.
“Protecting Ecosystem Health and Agricultural Values: A Strategy for Crown Land Invasive Plant Management in the Thompson Nicola” is being implemented by the B.C. government in partnership with the BC Cattlemen’s Association, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the newly formed Thompson Nicola Invasive Plant Management Committee.
The three-year project helps support B.C.’s ranching industry and rural communities in the region affected by the spread of non-native plants. These species can inhibit the growth of native plants and have a negative impact on grazing areas and the health of grassland ecosystems.
Government staff have hosted meetings this year with stakeholders, private landowners and First Nations to update the Thompson-Nicola region’s invasive plant inventory, identify management priorities and co-ordinate treatment plans.
To date, about 1,300 kilometres of forest service roads in the Thompson-Nicola region have been surveyed and treated this year (covering about 779 hectares), 625 sites containing critical invasive species were controlled (covering about 17 hectares) and an additional 53 hectares of land were surveyed to determine whether invasive plants were present.
In addition, expanded invasive plant treatments conducted by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure addressed invasive plants along 250 kilometres of right-of-way (covering about 175 hectares), including over 30 kilometres adjacent to treated private lands (covering about 13 hectares). The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure also treated 39 gravel pits within the Thompson-Nicola region, removing invasive plants from about 15 hectares of priority sites.
Tasks accomplished so far in 2017 include:
- improving engagement with Thompson-Nicola stakeholders affected by invasive plants.
- participating in the establishment of a new, multi-stakeholder Thompson Nicola Invasive Plant Management Committee, which will help co-ordinate invasive plant management for the region, develop a strategic plan, help educate stakeholders and others about invasive plants, and serve as the public’s primary source of invasive plant information.
- planning invasive plant treatments to address provincial, regional, and local priorities such as spotted knapweed.
- focusing treatment on areas where invasive plants are spreading within the Thompson-Nicola region, and subsequently targeting affected roadsides, pull-outs, rest areas, gravel pits and trailheads.
- conducting broad treatments along roadways for established species like spotted knapweed, in addition to spot treatments of new invaders.
- protecting substantive invasive plant control investments on private land adjacent to Crown land, through targeted treatments of buffer areas and a co-ordinated “good neighbour” approach.
Over the course of the three-year Thompson-Nicola project, funding will also support research on invasive plant management at Thompson Rivers University, with the goal of identifying new ways to treat invasive plants and restore ecosystems damaged by these non-native plants.
- Invasive plants are non-native (alien) plants that, when introduced to British Columbia, either cause, or are likely to cause, economic damage, environmental damage, or harm to human health.
- Invasive plants can spread rapidly, crowd out native species, alter ecosystems, reduce forage for wildlife and livestock, and take over natural and managed areas.
- Many invasive plants that make their way to B.C. can spread because they do not have their natural enemies present (e.g., specific insects) that limit the growth of these plants in their native ranges.
- Some invasive plants, such as hawkweed or knapweed, can grow very quickly and become so dominant that they crowd out native species and forage grasses. This can considerably reduce the amount of food available for rangeland animals (by up to 90% in the case of spotted knapweed).
“Protecting Ecosystem Health and Agricultural Values: A Strategy for Crown Land Invasive Plant Management in the Thompson Nicola” is available online: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/HRA/invasive-species/4495-Invasive_Plant_Mgmnt.pdf
Invasive Plant Program: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/plants/index.htm
B.C. Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/invasive-species/index.htm
Invasive Species Council of British Columbia: http://www.bcinvasives.ca