Last week we began a control project on Scotch Broom for BC MoTI on Hwy 91A next to City of New Westminster lands. This is a great project as it highlights the importance of cross jurisdictional efforts on invasive plants. New West has been actively controling Broom in this area and to help their effort, MoT is doing the same. Scotch Broom can be very difficult to pull out and I know that I personally have spent many sweaty hours using a weed wrench on some monster Broom plants. In order to be most efficient, we used the cut and paint approach. This approach is very fast as all it involves is cutting the Broom plant at its base and painting the stump with herbicide. This is a great approach as there is no risk (or almost no risk) or non target damage and very little herbicide is used. We are excited to follow this site for efficacy as we have not engaged in a large-scale broom control project such as this yet. Last year, we rarely controled Broom plants as they are lower on our priority list. We did treat several when they were on the same site as a priority species. I could not believe how quickly it went to treat these infestations. Watch our video blog on this treatment method by clicking "continue reading" below...
I was lucky enough to give an Invasive Plant presentation on Mayne Island last week to the garden club there. It was a beautiful day on the island and I had the opportunity to tour around the island a little bit to look at their species of concern. While it is no surprise that Scotch Broom is a major concern on Vancouver Island and many of the Gulf Islands, I was surprised to learn (and see) that Daphne Laurel (Daphne laureloa) was a major emerging concern for them.
Today the crew started work on Cypress Mountain Provincial Park, at the works yard where the snowploughs and equipment are stored over the summer. An infestation of Japanese knotweed at the far end of the yard had been covered with multiple layers of white tarpaulin, and it was our job to cut through that to the plants beneath, and treat them.
Today the crew (now minus Jeremy who has other commitments to make) gained the services of Amy – a crew lead from last year – to work alongside three hard-working people for Ducks Unlimited. Our job, and oh how we wish it were like Mission Impossible with the tag line “should you decide to accept it” – was to remove English cordgrass from the delta mudflats at Ladner. This nasty grass is able to survive on the intertidal mudflats where nothing else but a thin bio-film should grow, altering the hydrology and deposition characteristics and turning mudflats into marsh. While some people might think that sounds like a good land-making technique, unfortunately it means destroying an internationally-significant stopping point for migratory birds, causing their populations to decline. So we donned our rubber boots or waders, got our sleds ready with shovels and black garbage bags, and set off into the muddy delta where each English cordgrass colony was clearly marked by a flagged survey pin. About ten metres off shore at least one crew member was stuck fast and had to dig herself out using her shovel; twice. Half an hour later and still only about 50m from shore she gave up and turned back. Another crew member battled on and squelched out far enough to make it to the slightly raised muddy hillocks about 100m out in the intertidal zone where there was at least some resistance to sinking, and set to with beheading the grass to remove seed into black garbage sacks for disposal to landfill, and to dig out and bag for disposal any small clones (clusters)less than about 30cm in diameter. Meanwhile the remaining crew member on had made good progress across the marshy vegetation nearer shore and was busy collecting a few clones and a lot of seed heads. By lunch time we had amassed a few sacks of plants and seedheads on our sleds and were feeling pretty overwhelmed as we gazed over the mudflats and the ever increasing army of marker flags now visible as the tide retreated. There must be thousands out there. Still, we battled on and with the tide fully out the going seemed slightly easier, so the whole crew made it out onto the mud to continue removing seed heads until the tide returned. (post by Sara)
On Friday, August 12 we went from managing weeds in the mountains, to those by the sea. Lucky us! We met Park Ranger Mark Grist at Cates Park to launch the Ranger boat and headed up beautiful Indian Arm for a day of invasive plant control. One cannot overstate the beauty of the Arm. Wonderful scenery, interesting architecture and the sea air! The first site we stopped at was most interesting. An infestation of Knotweed that appeared on a beach. Just this one infestation between the forest edge and the beach about 12m wide by maybe 18m long. It seems that the privacy provided by the knotweed had made a perfect hide out for who knows what on the beach as someone had clearly made a "doorway" into the infestation.
The crew treated the knotweed and I (Jen) hiked around in the surrounding forest with Mark looking for anymore knotweed that may have been hiding in the forest. It was a great relief to us that the infestation had not spread and we are hopeful that one more follow up treatment after this should take care of it! The question is, how the heck did it get there? The closest infestation of knotweed is 25km away. We'd love to hear your theories on this! The best we could come up with is that it floated on the water. It seems unlikely to us that it would've come with someone who stopped at this site by boat. There are no roads around. That's weeds for you, they always seems to leave you scratching your head.
After that, we headed further up the Arm to treat a species we don't often treat or manage for anymore.... Himalayan Blackberry! A popular recreation area was beginning to see an infestation that could've quickly taken over the entire area. What a treat for us to get a crack at Himalayan Blackberry! So often we find ourselves having to walk past it and leave it as it just doesn't make the priority list in many of the more urban areas we treat.
Our second blackberry site of the day (yes, second) was on the Twin Islands. Once again the crew thoroughly enjoyed being able to do this! This has really made me realize how important invasive plant management is in our BC Parks. These are some of the last remaining "pristine" areas we have in our region and we need to keep them that way! What an opportunity for us to have a learning ground to see an intact ecosystem. Very interesting on this site was an infestation of English Ivy and another ornamental variety of ivy. Again, how did it get there?? What do you think? Would someone have brought it with them? Do birds spread it? More head scratching.... We are happy to report that we freed several trees and treated all of it. I look forward to going back in a few weeks to see how things are looking.
After a loooong, hot day, we were still sad that our amazing day battling weeds by boat was over. The places we have been this summer are truly amazing and I find myself thinking what an awesome place we live in, and this only motivates me to keep up the good fight.
The work continues with BC Parks, and for a couple of days we have been in the Provincial Park on Mount Seymour, tasked with treating known spots of infestations of various invasive plants, as well as inventorying along the BC Hydro right-of-way, Mount Seymour Road and around the Park facilities and offices. On Tuesday we were on site before the Park office was open, so we spent some time a little further up Mount Seymour Road treating a clump of Japanese knotweed and some bull thistles growing on a mound of old road and soil fines pushed up around a pullout. We then met with Park Rangers and got some information on “where something had been seen” so we could go check it out. We headed off to the BC Hydro right of way off Old Buck Trail, and treated a small clump of Japanese knotweed there before inventorying the rest of the way to the Park boundary. There was not too much to report – a fair bit of St John’s wort but only the occasional Himalayan blackberry among the thicket of native flora that provided an attractive scene for us and the occasional mountain bikers that passed by. We pulled some of the wort, and treated the Himalayan blackberry. Back to the road and up the ski area we headed out on foot to treat a solitary giant hogweed growing slap bang in the middle of the ski base area. It had been neatly fenced off for safety, but despite all that “look at me” paraphernalia our attention was drawn to a large black bear taking a lunch break right beside it. The Park Ranger who had joined us there was unwilling to shoo the bear away - and so were we - so we returned downhill a little way to treat some Japanese knotweeds just coming up through re-graded banks around the overnight parking lot, and by the time we returned the bear was no longer in sight. We made a lot of noise as we headed out to the giant hogweed, and worked doubly fast to treat it and post the necessary information signs. Then back down the hill, another spot of Japanese knotweed treated, and on to the Parks Offices where we treated a little more Japanese knotweed, the stragglers that came up after last year’s treatment work.
The next day we returned with the Parks Ranger to check out some sites around the Park entrance on Mount Seymour Road where Japanese knotweed had been reported but we had failed to find it in the thick undergrowth the day before. We also worked to treat several large rugs of Lamium (yellow archangel) that were growing over the forest floor – it was obvious these had arisen as dumping from domestic yards. We then headed to the superstore to buy a few lidded buckets and some foam paint ‘brushes’ – plus a regular bristled paint brush – so we could tackle some more Lamium growing in and amongst the landscaped yard of the BC Parks office. The idea was to paint individual leaves and not get any herbicide onto non-target foliage. On our return to the offices we carefully wrapped up some sword ferns with plastic garbage bags around their bases and a thatch of dead fronds wrapped around that for good measure, and pulled some garbage bags over the crowns of other native plants we wanted to keep safe. We treated a very large expanse of periwinkle (Vinca sp.) and another of Lamium and set about painting the tangled infestation of Lamium by the front door. A few passers-by and visitors gave us some puzzled looks, but we explained what we were doing. It will be interesting to re-visit and see how successful we have been. Then, since we were so close by, we went off on foot to point zero, treating a few Japanese knotweeds on the way, and treated yet more Lamium and periwinkle, plus some hotspots of thistles, around what was once a parking lot, but is now closed to traffic. There we inventoried several invasive species, including dense thickets of Himalayan blackberry. Upon completing that we set back up the mountain – again – to inventory the invasive plants along the roadside. Mostly this was invasive yellow hawkweed, sow thistle and oxeye daisy - it became rather dull making the same observations over and over – but we noted that Himalayan blackberry soon peters out and is not found beyond the first 2km or so. Hopefully that means it can be contained to the lowest regions of the Park.
Friday 5 August
Those giant hogweeds have their heads in the clouds
Today was especially exciting for the crew. Through a working partnership between the District of North Vancouver (DNV) and the Grouse Mountain Resort (GMR), we were whisked up, up and away in the service gondola to work on a reported infestation of giant hogweeds on the Skyline Drive trail. There was some skepticism since it was generally understood that giant hogweeds do not grow so high up (around 3000’ or 1000m above sea level) and survive under 30’ snow packs. But once on site, courtesy of a ride on a GMR truck, we found the giant hogweeds very quickly and got busy with stem-injecting or direct application to giant hogweeds growing around the uppermost part of the Skyline hiking trail, just below the chairlift. A few deer watched us as we worked, seemingly unconcerned by our presence even if we did look a bit strange in our white suits with face shields. It was extremely hard work, on steep, rocky and uneven terrain with dense underbrush, in warm sunshine above the clouds that for most of the time obscured Vancouver from view. A few trail hikers passed by and, after enquiring what we were doing, congratulated the crew on the good work. While working on site our DNV liaison got chatting to one of the year-round staff who told him about a second giant hogweed location further upslope at the mid-station. So after the crew tackled the 200-odd giant hogweed plants along the trail we were collected by our friendly GMR truck driver and taken up the mountain to the mid-station. Sure enough, lurking in the bush at the side of the slope were another 20 or so maturing giant hogweed plants. We checked a bit further upslope in case there was another hogweed infestation higher up, but we found no more hogweeds above mid-station. Soon after we all headed back to the gondola and the base of the mountain and after a brief wait at the bottom, we were reunited with all our gear that followed us in another gondola. Another good day spent at the office.
Dealing with infestations in the upper reaches of the Mosquito and Mackay watersheds is a DNV strategy for waterborne invasive plants, and the DNV were very pleased to work in partnership with GMR today.
Tuesday 2 August 2011
Giant hogweeds that bit the dust: about 700 would be a fairly conservative estimate
Today we started work in the north-west reaches of the District of North Vancouver, focusing on giant hogweed. After a quick recce of a few sites we started out at Cleveland Park where a worrisome patch of giant hogweed is growing up and under the staircase that leads from the parking area to the soccer field. Just waiting to be smashed up by many pairs of feet it was easy to imagine the harm it could do if anyone was wearing flip-flops.
The GVIPC Crew, IPCT (Invasive Plant Containment Team), has hit the ground running! We are pleased to have Karen, Sara and Jeremy helping GVIPC to wage the War on Weeds in Metro Vancouver! Welcome to their blog. After today, the IPCT's Sara will provide daily updates and pictures on what the crew has been working on and any victories or challenges they have had.
In just one week, the IPCT has treated all but one of the Giant Hogweed infestations along Hwy 1 in our region (Hwy 1 Eastbound at Westview, Eastbound at 232nd Street, Westbound at 248th Street, Westbound at Dollarton Hwy/Mt.Seymour Parkway, and Westbound at Lloyd Ave.) The remaining site is at the northeast end of the Queensborough Bridge and is slated for treatment next week.