Spotted knapweed - Black Press Media file photo

Spotted knapweed - Black Press Media file photo

CRD takes ranching operation to task on invasive knapweed

Knapweed is identified as a serious threat to rangelands and forests of the western U.S. and Canada

Cariboo Regional District (CRD) stakeholders voted unanimously to proceed with enforcement action if a Cariboo ranching company fails to address a spreading invasive knapweed infestation on its properties.

In a weighted vote of all electoral areas, the City of Williams Lake and the District of Wells during the CRD board meeting Friday, Nov. 13, officials decided to proceed with a court-ordered injunction against Blue Goose Cattle Co. if the company does not meet its request.

“It’s been a reoccurring issue over the years, and we’ve been trying to work with Blue Goose to try to come to some type of collaborative or co-operative agreement for them to do their part and we’ve had mixed results,” said Emily Sonntag, invasive plant management co-ordinator with the CRD.

Blue Goose Cattle Co. (BGCC), who was not at the CRD meeting, is a certified organic cattle ranching operation responsible for the management and stewardship of over 250,000 acres of leased and deeded land within the Central and South Cariboo, and Chilcotin regions of the CRD.

Sonntag said collaboration and communication between the CRD and the company has deteriorated over the past eight years.

“The infestation is getting denser and larger, which has been noticed by a lot of residents in the area, as well as our program, so the problem is getting worse … I have not seen any evidence a concerted effort has taken place [on their behalf].”

Blue Goose Cattle Co. ranch manager Frank Schlueter, however, said contrary to the CRD’s report to the board Friday, the company has, in fact, been diligent and proactive dating back to 2015 and annually, thereafter, attempting to stop the knapweed spread. He added the knapweed spread is not simply a “Blue Goose issue.”

“Clearly, we have inherited this invasive plant issue from previous owners, as untreated and unmanaged knapweed on large sites has existed on the lands for decades,” Schlueter noted in an emailed response.

“[At that time in 2015] we hired a local (RPBio) biologist to introduce biological control in the form of predatory seed weevils and root weevils in order to get ahead of the issue.”

READ MORE: Controlling knapweed one plant at a time

A document titled ‘Spotted Knapweed Management Plan: Infestation Mapping, Biocontrol Presence Survey, and Management Options for the Blue Goose Cattle Company 105 Mile Operations” shows approximately 17.02 hectares, or 42.55 acres, of spotted knapweed in 2015 on the company’s 111 and 105 Mile, Walker Valley and Soda Lake properties.

The plan recommended biological control, prevention activities, monitoring activities and mechanical control activities such as moving road and trail-sides, however, Sonntag said aside from some biological controls and monitoring, evidence of the implementation of all other recommended control methods has been non-existent, and actions taken by the IPM co-ordinator to meet with BGCC to discuss plans and strategies have been ignored.

Schlueter said knapweed commonly spreads into grasslands beginning from roadsides and is brought into the area by vehicle traffic.

“Public roadways with weeds, which are left unchecked and untreated for decades, can cause large knapweed outbreaks,” he said.

“[This is] a larger community issue, brought about and started by neglect over early decades of lack of roadside weed management. These include Blue Goose, the CRD and potentially other funding sources for remediation.”

According the CRD report, inspection completed on July 15, 2020 in response to a complaint received on July 10 showed spotted knapweed presence on 14 separate properties owned by BGCC.

Sonntag said the 14 properties encompass approximately 15,427 acres in the 108, 105 and 11 Mile areas of the South Cariboo.

She estimates, based on the 2015 study and a conservative rate of spread of the infestation at 14 per cent, annually, the 17.02 hectares originally reported in 2015 may be approximately 32.7 hectares of 81.93 acres on the properties surveyed in the management plan.

Knapweed is identified as a serious threat to rangelands and forests of the western U.S. and Canada because it reduces forage production and quality and increases management costs and production losses for the agriculture industry.

The plant also reduces soil fertility and water infiltration into soil, while increasing surface water runoff and stream sedimentation. The CRD noted knapweed also reduces wildlife habitat and native biodiversity.

Following the board’s unanimous approval to proceed, the CRD will issue Blue Goose Cattle Co. a letter asking for voluntary compliance by the end of June of 2021 prior to plants setting seed and flowers. The letter would be issued this winter.

By the spring of 2021, properties will be inspected for evidence of compliance. Sonntag said if BGCC has failed to voluntarily comply the CRD will invite BGCC to a board meeting to justify why further enforcement actions are not warranted. Should the board decide further action is warranted, the CRD will proceed through a court-ordered injunction.

“It’s hard to say how large the infestation is now,” Sonntag said. “It could be a lot larger, and it is going to be extremely costly. I have ball parked it and, because it is an organic operation, if they are going to tackle it mechanically, costs are just under $6,000 a hectare … that’s going to be about $200,000 if it is around 80 hectares.

“I would expect they control the smaller infestations and start working into the main infestation. It’s going to be a multi-year process.”



greg.sabatino@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CaribooFarming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

A search was launched for missing Xeni Gwet’in member Randolph (Rando) Quilt on Friday, Dec. 4 in Williams Lake. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty speaks in the House of Commons. (House of Commons Photography)
LETTER: Help should only be 3-digits away

Research has shown that more Canadians, especially our most vulnerable, are thinking about suicide

Cariboo Art Beat artists Tiffany Jorgensen, left, and Sarah Sigurdson celebrated the installation of the mural they have created for the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
VIDEO: Williams Lake recreation complex boasts new ice sports mural

It was created by local artists Tiffany Jorgensen and Sarah Sigurdson

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

Most Read