Spring is, finally, in the air. Gardeners may already be plotting their gardens and outdoors enthusiasts are hanging up their skis and snowshoes in anticipation of pulling out their boats and hiking boots.
But with increased plant growth and ice break up comes increased risk of invasive species and the Invasive Species Council of B.C. in 100 Mile House asks that people enjoying the warmer weather take some precautions while they spend time outdoors.
“People are buying seeds and bulbs right now, and we’d like to have them thinking about being PlantWise,” says Sabina Donnelly, of the Invasive Species Council. “A lot of people don’t realize there are species or there are plants that are being sold in the horticulture industry that have a tendency to become weedy and some of them are actually noxious weeds.”
Donnelly says it’s important to look carefully at seed mixes, even ones labeled “wildflowers” to make sure they don’t contain invasive plants.
“There are tons you can be mistakenly planting in your garden,” she says. A list of noxious weeds, and alternatives to plant instead, can be found via the PlantWise link at www.bcinvasives.ca.
“Play, clean, go,” is the message for those who enjoy wildflowers in more natural settings.
“In spring time a lot of people want to go hiking, go biking and do things like that in the outdoors, which is super great,” says Donnelly.
“What people have to be aware of is they are actually a vector for invasive species spread.”
Burs easily get stuck on clothing or fur, while seeds and pests can hitch a ride in mud or plant material. To avoid the spread of unwanted seeds, Donnelly says people should always clean their boots and clothing when travelling between different locations and remove and bag species that get stuck in your clothing.
While the ice hasn’t completely cleared, Donnelly has a message for those waiting for break up to get their boats on the water.
“When [people] are done using their boats, clean, dry and drain your boat. That minimizes the possibility of transferring things like zebra mussel or Eurasion watermilfoil.”
While the zebra mussel has not yet reached British Columbia, it is threatening fish and other aquatic life in lakes throughout Canada and the United States. The mussel also creates serious issues for lakeside infrastructure, clogging pipes and hydro facilities.
While Donnelly encourages people to get outdoors and enjoy the spring and the natural environment, the Invasive Species Council hopes to make sure others can enjoy that environment for years to come.