CN joins fight against Japanese knotweed 

Eradication program targetted invasive plants

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The attack on Japanese Knotweed by the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council will continue until October, thanks to late participation from CN.

Kristina Swerhun of the council said CN was attacking areas near Britannia Beach, while workers brought in by the council for a 12-week eradication program stuck to Crown Land in and around Squamish, north to the Big Orange Bridge on the Sea to Sky Highway.

The project used the herbicide glyphosate to attack the plant by spraying or injecting at the root.

"I was trying to get them (CN) on board for three years, since we were formed, and it's great to have them here," Swerhun said.

"They do their own vegetation control. They could be taking out knotweed just as part of their regular control, but during a recent survey with them we noticed that they were only treating within their properties and the mowers were actually spreading the plant."

She said the work with CN was twofold, training staff and direct control of the plant.

"It's great to have the stakeholders working together," Swerhun said.

"Giant hogweed was their first priority, which is great because it was our priority too, and second was Japanese knotweed."

Swerhun said provincial funding for continuing the project in the spring of 2013 looks to be in place, and she was hoping to settle funding to continue a project with homeowners in the Sea to Sky corridor to remove both Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed.

An invasive species not native to the region, Japanese knotweed can have serious environmental, safety and economic impacts. The aggressively growing plant can cause so much property damage that in the U.K. would-be homebuyers cannot get a mortgage if it's present in the area.

The weed can choke rivers and streams, displace natural plants that are important to the ecology, and is incredibly hard to remove. Even a small sliver of root left behind is enough to start a new outbreak — hence the use of a chemical herbicide rather than removing the plants by hand.

But Swerhun said full eradication of the areas where the plant was attacked by glyphosate was at 90 per cent.

"It would take a few years of this project to get rid of it, but we are happy with the result we had this year," she said.

Meanwhile, there was a false alarm about Asian carp invading the waters around Lillooet and Lytton. Eight carp had been caught between Bridge River and Sawmill Creek during the 2012 aboriginal fishery, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, but Swerhun said it was a species native to B.C.

"We're glad people are on the lookout for invasive carp. It would be totally devastating to get it in our rivers," she said.

The fish will compete for food with indigenous species and prey on their larvae. They can also cause significant habitat damage and ecological disruption. Moreover, Asian Silver carp tend to jump out of the water and endanger recreational boaters and water skiers.

If any carp are caught it is recommended that the fish be killed and taken to the local DFO office or call 1-250-256-2650. Please note the location the fish was caught, including the GPS position, if possible.

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