Walk to identify invasive weeds

A wide variety of vegetation grow on the banks of the Swift Current Creek where it flows past Elmwood Park in Swift Current. The Aug. 10 event will include a walk to identify invasive weeds along the creek.

A relaxing walk along the scenic Chinook Parkway in Swift Current will provide families with an opportunity to learn more about various plants that have invaded the watershed.

The Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards (SCCWS) is hosting an outdoor event on Aug. 10 about invasive weeds that will include presentations and a walking identification tour.

This will be the first time that SCCWS is presenting such an educational event for the public. SCCWS Executive Director Kevin Steinley said their goal during the past few years was to educate producers, landowners and land managers about invasive weed management.

An invasive pest workshop for these interest groups was scheduled to take place in March, but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So then we thought about ways to educate urban residents, especially those in Swift Current, about invasive weeds and identification and things of that nature, because there is a significant amount of invasive weed species in and along the creek in Swift Current,” he explained. “The other thing was just to try and provide an activity that families can do together during the summer when there's not as many other events going on.”

This outdoor event will be an opportunity for SCCWS to connect with a different group of people and to highlight the invasive weeds that people will then be able to identify when they walk along the pathway.

“I think especially along the Chinook Parkway along the creek, a lot of people are on it and maybe on it almost every day,” he said. “So if they see something that shouldn't be there, this will help them to identify what it is. Is it an invasive species, should we report it, and then it can go to the experts for eradication.”

According to Steinley the presence of invasive weeds in the Swift Current Creek watershed is a concern.

“There are several different invasive weeds that we found, things such as dame’s rocket, field bindweed, common burdock, and others,” he said. “They alter the ecology of the creek bank and can undermine the stability of the creek bank, which in the city and along the Parkway could have bad effects. We've seen some cases where downpours caused some slumping issues along the bank, because they tend to be more shallow rooted species and don't provide the same sort of protection to the bank as the native species.”

The type of invasive weeds along the creek in the city will be similar to those found on the banks of the creek in the rural area.

“It's possible that in the city you'd get more of the colourful type of invasives, because they came as ornamental plants,” he noted. “The two that come to mind are baby's breath and purple loosestrife. Baby's breath was used and still is used in flower arrangement and purple loosestrife was used for ornamentals in people's gardens. So we see those out in the rural areas, but I think there's more of a chance that those will be in the urban setting, because they've been used as ornamentals in urban areas.”

The event will start with some short presentations about the Swift Current Creek watershed, why invasive species are an issue that influences watershed health, and the identification of weeds.

“There will be a walk along the parkway to try and identify and to show people live examples of some of these plants,” he said. “We'll also touch on the use of iMapInvasives, which is an app that people can use to report sightings of invasive species of all types, not just plants, but we'll focus on how to report sightings of invasives.”

This app provides a convenient way for people to alert authorities of the presence of weeds that are prohibited or noxious.

“If it's a weed that's prohibited or one on the watch list and it's reported through that, then it gets reported to the City right away and other organizations so that they know that it's there,” he said.

This afternoon event to learn more about invasive weeds will take place on Aug. 10 from 1-4 p.m. Participants will meet at the Elmwood Park parking lot. Things that people should remember to bring along are hats, bug spray, sun block, water and masks.

Registration for the event is required by Aug. 7, because space is limited due to COVID-19 and the need to have a group that is practical to work with.

To register, contact the SCCWS by calling 306-770-4607 or send an e-mail to: stewards@sccws.com

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