Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett encouraged everyone to do their part as she announced $1.7 million in new government grants Friday to help control the spread of invasive plants.
Holding a bouquet of invasive weeds — plastic of course — Barnett leaned close to the ground and insisted people need to become more aware of what is growing in their own back yards.
“People need to get to the root of the plants and dig them up,” she said. “And don’t just dig them up, put them in a bag, dry them out and burn them if you can.”
Barnett recalled coming from an era when people dug the weeds. “There was no such thing as pesticides and herbicides,” she said.
Gail Wallin, executive director of the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC), whose organization will benefit locally from the funding, echoed Barnett.
Wallin reminded the public not to take invasive weeds with them when the are in the outback.
“It’s a big issue because you could have them on your boots, your vehicle or boat props,” Wallin said, noting it’s important to make sure everything is clean because weeds are easily transported from one area to another.
“Up here in the Cariboo we have lakes that are at risk for milfoil — we don’t want milfoil — and we have one of three sites of flowering rush in Bouchie Lake in the Quesnel area,” Wallin added, noting bikers, hikers, boaters and outdoor enthusiasts have a big role to play.
Barnett suggested when people are on the land base they take a look around at what’s there.
“If you don’t know there’s information on websites, brochures at the Cariboo Regional District and Invasive Species office, there’s even a smartphone app,” she said.
The public can even send in photographs and staff at the Invasive Species Council of BC will identify the plants for them.
Many people plant things that are invasive without realizing it, Barnett added.
Wallin thanked Barnett for the funding and said groups like hers and regional districts are able to use the funding they receive from the provincial government to leverage other funding.
In her case it’s not hard to match it one to three and even as high as one to five, she said.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said from the new funding 31 grants will be given to regional invasive species committees, local governments and the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia to support their efforts and the goals of the provincial Invasive Plant Program.
The $1.7 million is in addition to the $935,000 already allocated by the ministry and the $2.1 million allocated by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for invasive plant control and management in 2016-17.
Currently, some of the targeted invasive plant species in B.C. are marsh plume thistle, European common reed, garlic mustard, knotweed, Spartina, orange and yellow (non-native) hawkweeds, knapweed, giant hogweed, blueweed, common tansy, tansy ragwort, hoary alyssum, field scabious, leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, yellow flag iris, Himalayan balsam and Scotch broom.
Members of the public can report sightings of invasive species anywhere in B.C. by using the Report-A-Weed smartphone app, by calling
1 888 WEEDSBC (1 888 933-3722) or by using the online reporting tool at: http://www.reportaweedbc.ca.