BY KUHL, NICK ON AUGUST 10, 2017.
Demi Knight, Southern AlbertaNewspapers – Crowsnest Pass
In efforts to stop invasiveplants from hurting the delicate ecosystems of the Crowsnest Pass, seasonalemployees have taken it upon themselves to become the Weed Warriors of thecommunity.
In the summer of 2016 the WeedWarriors group was formed by seasonal employees of the Municipality of theCrowsnest Pass Agriculture and Environmental Services, but staff this year arehoping to continue the weed whacking tradition into the upcoming season.
Kristyn Kennard, seasonal staffmember, says all members of the community are invited to help them in theirmission to stop the spread of invasive weeds throughout the summer months.
“Myself and my co-worker,Caitlin Gibbs, are seasonal employees with the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass,Ag and Environmental Services and are hoping to continue on with the volunteerevent in the 2017 season. We are inviting anybody who is interested to come outand help us pull weeds along various riparian areas within the Crowsnest Pass,”she says.
The weed-pull events arevolunteer based and call to all members of the public to spend a day outdoorswith friends and family to help in this persistent battle.
Throughout the months of Julyand August, weed pulls are held every Wednesday morning in new and threatenedareas of the community. Kennard says that ridding the land of these invasiveplants has a domino effect of positive outcomes for riparian areas.
“Healthy riparian areas withnative plants, shrubs and trees are important as they reduce flood damage,improve fish and aquatic habitat by creating cover and shade, reduce erosion ofstream banks, trap sediment, promote biodiversity by providing ideal habitat,create competition for invasive plants species, and slow surface water enteringgroundwater while recharging aquifers,” explains Kennard.
Not only is it important forthese healthy ecosystems to thrive, but leaving the invasive weeds to multiplycan reduce the growth and survival of native plants, while also infecting andkilling vegetation as well as stripping other plants of basic nutrients andmoisture.
Although other methods ofextrication for these weeds such as chemical and mechanical control can be attimes difficult due to their proximity to water, hand pulling the plants is asure-fire way to safeguard the surrounding areas, says Kennard.
“Weed management in riparianareas can at times be difficult. Due to the close proximity to water and theslope of the bank, management methods such as cultivation, some mechanical andchemical control may not be very effective. That is why we hand-pull the weedsin these areas.”
With a new location beingtackled each week the weed warriors and volunteers make their way around thePass to ensure better survival of the plants that help their ecosystems thrive.
From Drum Creek, Lyons Creekand Gold Creek to the Crowsnest River and beyond, every Wednesday morning from9:30-11:30 a.m. members of the community gather to help eradicate theseinvasive weeds. The organizers of these pulls say the events are no-commitmentvolunteer-based and a great way for members of the public to get active andsocialize with like-minded people.
“Weed Warrior Wednesdays are anopportunity for members of the community to come out and learn about weedmanagement and the importance of maintaining healthy riparian areas and to alsomeet like-minded people and spend some time outdoors at locations throughoutour beautiful communities.”
No experience is necessary inhelping with these events, and gloves will be provided to all volunteers byorganizers at the start of each pull.
Members of the public who areinterested in attending these pulls are encouraged to visit the Crowsnest Passwebsite for information on each week’s location or contact the Weed Warriorsdirectly at 403-563-6247 or email at: weedinspector@ crowsnestpass.com.