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Public outreach on invasive weeds needed in Kimberley, Council told

While there is backlash against herbicide use to control invasives, mechanical pulling is more labour intensive and expensive
Blueweed in the Forest Crowne area, one of the major areas of concern in Kimberley. Spectrum file

Kimberley Council heard a presentation from Nathan O’Reilley of Spectrum Resource Group at their regular meeting on January 9.

Spectrum manages Kimberley’s invasive plant species. Kimberley, like most other communities in B.C. has an invasive plant problem.

The main invasive in Kimberley is blueweed, which O’Reilley said can produce over 3,000 seeds per plant. In 2022, 104 sites with blueweed were inventoried and managed, with a total area of 22.24 hectares.

Other plants of concern are spotted knapweed; scentless chamomile and Dalmation toadflax. All of these plants are increasing in Kimberley.

Currently, Spectrum manages Kimberley’s invasive plants with a mixture of treatments; mechanical, meaning hand pulling, digging and dead heading; and they also use chemical applications of herbicides. He said there is often a backlash when chemicals are used and they then switch to mechanical. However, mechanical treatment is more labour intensive and takes longer, which is more expensive, and the budget for invasive plant treatment is limited.

He said Kimberley’s invasive plant problem is not entirely under control. In the past two years an additional 12 hectares of areas needing treatment have been added.

Another challenge is invasive plants on private properties that are not being controlled. O’Reilley suggested that the city needed an outreach program to educate residents on non-native plant species. He also suggested that homeowners could request that Spectrum come and treat their properties, and that would be done at a reduced cost if they were already in Kimberley doing treatment work. They generally do treatments in July before the plants produce seeds.

Community weed pulls can also be a good way to get the public involved in invasive plant control. They have the additional positive of allowing mechanical treatment of very large sites.

While there is definitely backlash over use of chemicals, O’Reilley said that the city of Smithers has a no pesticide policy and since it was enacted, their invasive plant population has gone out of control.

Spectrum suggested a budget increase of approximately 10 to 12 crew days to allow mechanical treatment of major problem areas.

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Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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