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Tuesday, 08 August 2017 07:00

Weed Warriors are back once again to attack pesky invasive plants

Written by  Demi Knight
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In efforts to stop invasive plants from hurting the delicate ecosystems of the Crowsnest Pass, seasonal employees have taken it upon themselves to become the Weed Warriors of the community.


In the summer of 2016 the Weed Warriors group was formed by seasonal employees of the municipality of the Crowsnest Pass Agriculture and Environmental Services, but staff this year are hoping to continue the weed whacking tradition into the upcoming season. 
Kristyn Kennard, seasonal staff member, says all members of the community are invited to help them in their mission 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 volunteer event in the 2017 season. We are inviting anybody who is interested to come out and help us pull weeds along various riparian areas within the Crowsnest Pass,” she says.
The weed pull events are volunteer based and call to all members of the public to spend a day outdoors with friends and family to help in this persistent battle.
Throughout the months of July and August, these weed pulls are held every Wednesday morning in new and threatened areas of the community. Kennard says that ridding the land of these invasive plants has a domino effect of positive outcomes for riparian areas.
“Healthy riparian areas with native plants, shrubs, and trees are important as they reduce flood damage; improve fish and aquatic habitat by creating cover and shade; reduce erosion of stream banks; trap sediment; promote biodiversity by providing ideal habitat; create competition for invasive plants species; and slow surface water entering groundwater while recharging aquifers,” explains Kennard.
Not only is it important for these healthy ecosystems to thrive, but leaving the invasive weeds to multiply can reduce the growth and survival of native plants, while also infecting and killing vegetation as well as stripping other plants of basic nutrients and moisture.  
Although, other methods of extrication for these weeds such as chemical and mechanical control can be at times difficult due to their proximity to water, hand pulling the plants is a sure-fire way to safeguard the surrounding areas, says Kennard.
“Weed management in riparian areas can at times be difficult. Due to the close proximity to water and the slope of the bank, management methods such as cultivation, some mechanical, and chemical control may not be very effective. That is why we hand pull the weeds in these areas.”
With a new location being tackled each week the weed warriors and volunteers make their way around the Pass to ensure better survival of the plants that help their ecosystems thrive.
From Drum creek, Lyons creek and Gold creek to the Crowsnest River and beyond, every Wednesday morning from 9:30-11:30 a.m. members of the community gather to help eradicate these invasive weeds. The organizers of these pulls say the events are no-commitment volunteer-based and a great way for members of the public to get active and socialize with like-minded people.
“Weed Warrior Wednesdays are an opportunity for members of the community to come out and learn about weed management and the importance of maintaining healthy riparian areas and to also meet like-minded people and spend some time outdoors at locations throughout our beautiful communities.”
No experience is necessary in helping with these events, and gloves will be provided to all volunteers by organizers at the start of each pull.
Members of the public who are interested in attending these pulls are encouraged to visit the Crowsnest Pass website for information on each week’s location or contact the Weed Warriors directly at 403-563-6247 or email at: weedinspector@ crowsnestpass.com. 

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