A.E.S. class helps to control invasive weeds

The Lorax made a brief celebrity appearance at the first ever ‘Armstrong Community Stewardship Weed Pull Day’ on Thursday, June 13th.  Huculuk Park was the mustering site for approximately 50 volunteers including students from two local schools. 

The day began with Susan Brown’s Armstrong Elementary grade 3 class who heard from both the Lorax and Lara Philips of the Invasive Species Council of B.C. about how important it is to recognize and control the spread of invasive species to support the survival of our native plants and animals. 

The Lorax (aka Kim Fulton) speaks to Grade 3 students from Armstrong Elementary School

With the arrival of Shawna Ternent’s students from Pleasant Valley Secondary, Lara Philips provided further instruction on the specific invasive plant species to be found in the adjacent Meighan Creek area and their harmful impact on the wetland ecosystem. 

Then the work began! Each high school student paired up with a younger counterpart and with shovels, clippers and bags in hand, headed off in search of invasives.  First invasive on the list was burdock. Large stands of burdock were located on both sides of the creek and students began the arduous task of digging up the roots. Burdocks not only proliferate and crowd out native plant species, but they pose a threat to small bats and birds who can get trapped in the tall burrs.  To discourage a re-growth of burdock, students were given native chokecherry seeds to plant in the disturbed soil where the roots were removed.

Waylon Stowards and Grayson Spivak hold up the burdock root they pulled

The morning’s teamwork resulted in the removal of a significant number of burdock plants and these were placed for later pick-up and composting by the City.

The afternoon’s work focussed on a different plant invader: the Yellow Flag Iris.  Grade 11 & 12 students travelled to another part of Meighan Creek to deadhead  Iris plants which, although beautiful, serve to colonize wetlands and choke out potential bird nesting sites with their roots.  

The student and community volunteers accomplished a lot in one day.  When asked beforehand what she would like her students to learn from their participation in the event, Shawna Ternent said “Stewardship.”  

The Armstrong Community Stewardship Weed Pull Day was organized by Lara Philips of the Invasive Species Council of B.C., Kim Fulton of the Ecosystem Project, Shirley Fowler of the City of Armstrong, the Armstrong Wetlands Association and the Armstrong/Spallumcheen Trails Society.  Student participation was organized by Susan Brown at Armstrong Elementary and Shawna Ternent of Pleasant Valley Secondary.