Fight against invasive species gets provincial support 

Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council gets provincial money to carry on the good fight

click to enlarge WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM - Alien invasion Scotch broom, one of the invasive species that are of particular concern in the Sea to Sky region.
  • www.shutterstock.com
  • Alien invasion Scotch broom, one of the invasive species that are of particular concern in the Sea to Sky region.

It's growing season, and the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC) is gearing up for a busy summer.

To help its cause, the provincial government recently announced that it would support the organization with a two-year grant of $116,000.

This marks the first time SSISC, which was founded in 2009, will receive multi-year financing from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (MFLNRO), explained Clare Greenberg, the organization's executive director.

"It means that it's secure funding so we can plan two years in advance—which is great," said Greenberg.

"It's less administrative burden. We're only signing the agreement once rather than twice ... It allows us to plan further ahead (and) helps in our planning."

The funding is part of the $7.7 million in grants aimed at managing the spread of invasive plants across the province.

"Our government is committed to containing or eradicating harmful invasive plants that adversely affect both rural and urban communities," said (MFLNRO) minister Doug Donaldson in a recent press release.

Invasive plants can displace native vegetation, cause substantial economic and environmental damage, and potentially pose a health risk to animals and people.

Greenberg said the money the SSISC receives would be put towards control and monitoring of invasive species and public education work.

In addition to provincial funding, SSISC receives money from a number of stakeholders, including the Community Foundation of Whistler, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and the federal government.

Greenberg said that the total provincial spending is going to a wide range of organizations.

"There are more diverse organizations receiving funding (than last year)," she said, noting that local and regional governments, educational institutions and non-profits will all receive funding.

For the Sea to Sky region, Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed, purple loosestrife and Scotch broom are of particular concern, according to environmentalists.

Scotch broom is a shrub that can grow up to three metres tall; its flowers are bright yellow and it blooms in May.

The shrub grows aggressively, and high-density infestations can obstruct sightlines on roads, limit movement of wildlife and humans and escalate wildfire intensity by increasing fuel load.

Unfortunately, it has become well established in the Squamish area, said Greenberg.

There are some examples of it in Whistler, but all of them are under control, she added.

"Our goal for the species is to eradicate it from Whistler—and all jurisdictions."

When it comes to learning more about invasive species and reporting them to the proper people, Greenberg suggests checking out SSISC's website (ww.ssisc.ca) and consider downloading the province's "report a weed" and "report invasive species" smartphone apps.

"If people find (invasive) species, it's best practice to report them," she said.

For an overview of various invasive species and links to download both apps, check out www.reportinvasives.ca.

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