Red Cross of­fers $1m to pre­vent spread of in­va­sive plants

The Province - - NEWS - JES­SICA WAL­LACE

KAM­LOOPS — More than a year after a huge wild­fire, the Thomp­son Nicola Re­gional Dis­trict is still clean­ing up and will be so for the next three years.

The dis­trict has re­ceived $1 mil­lion from the Red Cross to help treat and pre­vent the spread of in­va­sive plants fol­low­ing the hugely de­struc­tive Ele­phant Hill wild­fire, which burned in an “in­ter­face” or quasi-ru­ral area with build­ings.

“With fires, as well as in the ac­tion of fight­ing fires, there’s a lot of dis­tur­bance that hap­pens on the ground,” said Jamie Vieira, the dis­trict man­ager of en­vi­ron­men­tal health. “One of the big risks is the in­va­sion of in­va­sive weeds.”

In­va­sive plants are not na­tive to an area and typ­i­cally spread ag­gres­sively, with the po­ten­tial for snuff­ing out na­tive species upon which wildlife feed and caus­ing other en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age.

Vieira said hound’s-tongue and hoary alyssum — which can be toxic to live­stock — and spot­ted knap­weed were in the Ele­phant Hill area be­fore the fire, which started on July 6, 2017, and burned 1,920 square kilo­me­tres be­fore it was con­tained in the fall.

The Red Cross money will go to­ward a three-year in­va­sive plants treat­ment and preven­tion pro­gram, which will be­gin after a re­cov­ery man­ager is hired in early 2019.

Pri­vate land own­ers will be helped by the money, which will also be used to treat high­ways and other routes.

Vieira said the dis­trict has heard con­cerns pri­mar­ily from ranch­ers.

Once the pro­gram man­ager is in place, the dis­trict will be reach­ing out to the pub­lic with more in­for­ma­tion and will hold com­mu­nity meet­ings. Asked if $1 mil­lion is enough to com­bat the weeds, Vieira said the fi­nan­cial re­quest to the Red Cross was based on best es­ti­mates.

“We don’t know how much (in­va­sive plants) is out there,” he said.

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