Columbia Headwaters Invasive Plant Species Project

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Have you seen invasive plants in the Columbia Wetlands?

Please tell us where...

The Columbia Wetlands are a sensitive freshwater ecosystem, and invasive plants are their biggest threat.

Did you know that invasive plants can be both land- and water-based?

Plant ID in 1, 2, 3... 

  1. Invasive Plants in the Columbia Wetlands brochure
  2. Invasive plant ‘Most-Wanted’ poster
  3. Online catalog: Local Weeds to Watch For 

If you see any invasive plants in or near the wetlands, please contact us

What’s so bad about invasive plants?

After four years of surveying and monitoring, Wildsight has learned that the Columbia Wetlands has land-based, or terrestrial, invasive plant infestations around its perimeter. We have not yet found water-based, or aquatic, invasive plant infestations.  This is great news!

Aggressive aquatic invasive plants pose huge threats to wetlands. Future infestations could be disastrous to the delicate web of life within the wetlands.

Invasive plants can...

  • destroy wildlife habitat
  • silt fish spawning beds
  • alter wetland processes
  • change water levels
  • reduce biodiversity
  • replace native plants that serve as sources of food and shelter for all kinds of wildlife – insects, birds, reptiles and mammals.

They can also...

  • disrupt recreational activities
  • impede water flow that can stagnate water
  • reduce water quality.

What we’re doing

Wildsight started the Columbia Headwaters Invasive Plant Species Project in 2007.

Since then, Wildsight has...

  • Developed public education info about invasive plants.
  • Taken inventory of—and then removed—land-based invasive plants at the major boat access points into the wetlands.
  • Developed and conducted an inventory of aquatic invasive plants at 9 wetland sloughs in the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area.
  • Helped regional land managers plan to treat weeds with mechanical means or bio-control agents, not pesticides.
  • Brought together volunteers to hand-pull invasive plants from the wetlands and from surrounding communities.
  • Organized several community weed pulls in Golden, Horse Creek, Invermere and the Village of Radium Hot Springs.
  • Developed and managed Golden’s Community Weed Program.
  • Held public restoration events at Horse and Sinclair Creeks.  We removed invasive plants and put native plants in thier place.  800 shrubs and trees have been planted at these two sites.

Love the water, hate the weeds: what we know about aquatic invaders

In 2010 and 2011, Wildsight conducted aquatic plant surveys on 19 lakes in the Columbia Valley, including Lake Windermere. Specific lakes were chosen because they’re used for boating and fishing. And these recreational uses can spread aquatic invasive plants.

Surveyors inventoried aquatic plants from lakes using a special rake. They collected baseline data and looked for any and all invasive plants. If any water-based weeds were found, management plans for eradication would have been developed. However, these initial surveys found that there are no aquatic invasive plants in these lake systems, and we are working to help keep them that way.

In September 2011, Wildsight collected milfoil samples from multiple sites within Lake Windermere and Columbia Lake.  These were sent to a lab for DNA analysis because sometimes you can have milfoil species that look native, but are infact hybrids of the invasive Eurasian Watermilfoil.  We now have 100% confirmation that what we have in these lake systems is Northern Watermilfoil.  This is a native species.

Keeping lakes weed free is better than letting weeds take hold

Water-based invasive plants are detrimental to the environment and the economy. It is extremely difficult and costly to remove invasive species once they are established.

The best way to avoid long-term harm to our ecosystems is to prevent the introduction of invasive species in the first place.

In the fall of 2011, Wildsight developed educational signs to raise awareness about the threats posed by aquatic invasive plants and animals.  These signs remind people to CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY boats and fishing gear before entering a new waterway.  They are being installed on lake systems within the Columbia Valley and at access points to the Columbia Wetlands.  To see what these signs look like, click here.

Stopping nasty hitchhikers

If you fish or boat, please take one simple but powerful action to avoid spreading invasive plants.

Clean weeds and seeds from your boat, trailer, and fishing gear before you visit different waters in the province.

This is especially important if you have been boating or fishing in waters outside British Columbia, where these weeds have already invaded.

Learn more about what you can do to stop aquatic hitchhikersPreventing the introduction of invasive species is the key to avoiding long-term harm to our native ecosystems.

Wildsight is working with the Regional District of East Kootenay, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee and the Lake Windermere Project on this initiative. 

Toll Free Weed Hotline: 1-888-WEEDS BC

It’s never been easier to report invasive plants.

The Invasive Plant Council of B.C. has a provincial toll-free hotline, 1-888-WEEDSBC, so you can report invasive plants quickly and easily.

Call in to report invasive plants, get help with identifying them, and connect with local resources.

The hotline is open to the public, and is part of “Eyes Across B.C.”, an outreach and awareness initiative partnered by the Invasive Plant Council of B.C. and the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations.

You can also access the Invasive Alien Plant Program Application site or go directly to Report-a-Weed site.

Let’s protect the Columbia Wetlands and the Headwaters

Let us know if you see invasive plants near or in the Columbia Wetlands, or aquatic invaders in any lake system within the Kootenay/Columbia Mountains region.

To learn more about Wildsight’s Columbia Headwaters Invasive Plant Species Project, call us at 250-427-9325.

Wildsight thanks the following organizations for funding the Columbia Headwaters Invasive Plant Species Project:

  • Columbia Basin Trust
  • Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund
  • Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners
  • Town of Golden

Thanks also to our partner groups; the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Regional District of East Kootenay, District of Invermere, Invasive Plant Council of BC, and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.