Yesterday, students from across the district had the opportunity to visit the Laurie Guichon Memorial Grasslands Interpretive Site to learn about our beautiful surroundings and the invasive species that are threatening them.
Q101 had the opportunity to speak with Rachel Whitehouse a Rangeland Agrologist with the Ministry of Forests and Coleen Hougen an Invasive Plant Management Coordinator for the Thompson Nicola Invasive Plant Management Committee and the TNRD.
“An invasive weed is one that has special characteristics that make it a threat to either the environment, social values or cultural values,” said Whitehouse. “So, these are weeds that reproduce really quickly, have special adaptations that help them out compete other plants more so than your typical weed.”
Hougen spoke to why she feels it’s so important to help educate the students at such a young age.
“It’s good to instill this in them to get appreciation for our natural landscapes, their values and how invasive plants can impact them,” said Hougen. “I feel that when they learn this at a young age, they’re able to carry this on into the future and into their science programs. Hopefully become stewards of the land at some point and help do what they can to prevent further introduction and spread.”
Knapweed is one of if not the most prevalent invasive species found in the Merritt area. The plant produces 150 thousand seeds per metre squared. One of the stations the students were visiting was small area that they were helping clear of the invasive species.
“It was brought over here in the late 1800’s accidently as a contaminate in alfalfa seed and it has just spread all over North America,” said Whitehouse. “It outcompetes all the native plants, it releases a chemical that kills off the surrounding grass. So, it’s really hard on livestock and wildlife to forage.”
Hougen added in its native habitat in Russia, knapweed is not considered to be invasive due to other species in the area to are able to compete against it.
For more information you can visit TNIPMC.com or go into the Merritt Forestry District and ask for a weed ID booklet.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt