Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett announced a $1.6 million-job creation partnership developed by the B.C. government and the Invasive Species Council of B.C. in Williams Lake Friday.
Making the announcement on behalf of the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, Barnett said the government is contributing $872,826 toward the partnership which is putting people to work weeding out invasive plants and species in five Interior communities.
“We did this last year and received the same amount of funding,” Barnett said. “It is so important that we get rid of these invasive species. Many of us have them right in our back yard.”
Invasive Species Council of B.C. executive director Gail Wallin thanked Barnett for the province’s commitment to tackling the problem. The year-long Invasive Species Skills Development Program is focusing on recreation trails, green spaces and gravel pits because those ares where invasive species can be easily spread to other areas, Wallin said.
“I think it is really awesome, not only that you make this project possible, but you are helping reduce that spread in areas where people would be moving soil, etc, with their bikes and things like that.”
Dori Smith is part of a three-person team working in the Williams Lake area who started with the project in May.
“I can honestly say that before I became a part of this program I was pretty naive or at least oblivious to what was happening around me,” Smith said. So far she has received training, achieved her pesticide applicators certificate, and learned about plant management, eco methods, monitoring techniques and plant indentification.
“I’ve learned to walk with my head down, or as my grandbabies call it ‘weed patrol,’,” she said. “There are plants I never knew existed and aquatic species I didn’t even know were a problem.”
Steve Relkov supervises the Williams Lake crew and said even the RC Cotton site, where Friday’s media conference was held, is a bit of vector when it comes to invasive plants.
Gathering a few plants he made an invasive bouquet to prove the point.
“As you can see this one is ready to drop its seeds,” Relkov said as he held some dalmation toadflax in the palm of his hand.
Another invasive plant — burdock — can have 6,000 to 16,000 seeds depending on the size of the plant, he added.
Similar projects are taking place in Kamloops, 100 Mile House, Revelstoke and Vernon.
They will run until April 2017, with participants also making presentations to schools and local organizations and preparing a report on management activities related to 20 prioirty invasive plants and species at 250 different sites.