Invasive Matters

Be wary of wild birdseed mixes which may harbour invasive plants. Carefully select the seed mix or create your own.

With the holiday season in full swing and the New Year just around the corner, many of you may be indulging in retrospection and re-evaluating some of your life choices. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity to start making the changes that you contemplated throughout the year but never quite got around to doing.

Since you might need a little something to get you started, I’ve decided to help you out with my own list of invasive species resolutions. It’s essentially a summation of the best means of reducing the spread of invasive species in the Okanagan Similkameen region and improving the overall health of our natural habitats and agricultural areas. It will also help us save lots of money, because invasive species can have a significant impact on our pocketbook.

Whether you've battled Siberian elm trees in your backyard, picked puncturevine seedpods out of your bike tires or removed milfoil from your boat propeller, you've become aware of the spread of these unwanted invaders. Invasive species are a problem, but often the solutions are relatively straightforward. Take the time to read through these top thirteen resolutions and chose at least one that you can strive to achieve in 2017.

1. Learn to identify invasive species in the Okanagan-Similkameen region. Check out our website www.oasiss.ca or like our Facebook page to keep up to date on current events or the latest species to watch out for https://www.facebook.com/invasivespeciessociety

2. Report sightings of new invaders in our region or outbreaks of common species in remote locations where they may go undetected.

3. When gardening, choose plants wisely. Be suspicious of plants promoted as “fast spreaders” or “vigorous self-seeders.” Do not transplant aggressive species that are known to be invasive. Instead, select native plants that are adapted to our local ecosystems or non-invasive ornamental species.

4. Avoid using exotic wildflower seed mixes.

5. Be wary of wild birdseed mixes. Carefully select the seed mix or create the mix yourself. Put the seed mix on cookie sheets and bake to prevent germination. In the spring, remove any unusual plants growing under or near your bird feeder, before the plant goes to seed.

6. Dispose of invasive plants carefully. Do not "recycle" garden debris or compost. Properly dispose in trash bags or by drying out any material to destroy remaining vegetative parts.

7. Avoid letting invasive plants fruit or set seed, as birds and animals can spread the plants to other areas. Deadhead flowers, seedpods and berries of known invasive plants.

8. Reduce soil disturbances and re-seed disturbed soils with a suitable seed mix.

9. Learn about biological control or using natural insect enemies to control invasive plants, and consider this management option for your property.

10. When exploring the great outdoors, check your vehicle, boat, bike, camping gear, shoes and pets for invasive plant seeds that may have hitched a ride. Dispose of any seeds carefully.

11. Clean, drain and dry your boat and equipment to prevent moving mussels and other aquatic invaders from one lake to another.

12. Encourage friends and neighbours to learn more about invasive plants and animals, and share information that you have learned such as how to identify a certain species.

13. Get involved and be part of the solution!

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Well this brings the Invasive Matters series to a close for 2016. Thanks to all the readers who have contacted me with ideas, feedback and questions. Happy holidays and best wishes for 2017.

Lisa Scott is invasive species program coordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.

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