Play-Clean-Go curbing spread of invasive plants in Central Kootenay

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Picking puncturevine off a dirt bike tire.

Picking puncturevine off a dirt bike tire.

Close your eyes and picture this: It’s the first hot day of the year, the sun is shining, birds are chirping, and everything around is lush, green, and pristine. The lakes and rivers seem to sparkle and dance under the sun’s warm rays. You’re heading out to spend this Kootenay summer day with friends kayaking and mountain biking, taking advantage of all this incredible region has to offer.

While we are extremely fortunate to live in an area with such incredible outdoor facilities, it is important to remember the impact we have on the environment around us, especially when it comes to the spread of invasive species. There are many things we can do to help while enjoying the outdoors.

Play-Clean-Go, an initiative dedicated to help curb the spread of invasives, states, “Invasive species have many pathways of spread. For instance, weed seeds move easily in soil, so muddy boots or vehicles can move weed seeds. Some weeds’ seeds have special hooks to help them hitch a ride. Thus, weed seeds can spread on our shoes, socks, clothing and pets.”

However, the transportation of pesky weeds through soil is just one aspect of our trouble with invasive species. The Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee (CKIPC), has discovered many cases where water-borne invasives have hitched rides on vessels such as boats, kayaks and other water equipment, which have then been reintroduced into lakes and rivers, thus causing damage. By learning how to inspect and clean equipment and belongings, we can begin to reduce the chance of inadvertently spreading something that could harm the pristine outdoor environment we cherish.

Here are a few tips:

•During campfire season, use only local or certified firewood. If you are travelling, make sure all the wood you bring is used before returning home;

•While hiking, walking or biking make sure to stay on designated trails designed for this purpose; and

•Leave clean! Before returning home, make sure to check your belongings and remove any dirt, plants, or bugs to prevent an invasive species from tagging along.

Although summer is an amazing time of year in the Kootenay region, it is important to remember the impacts our outdoor activities have on the spread of invasive species. This is an issue that affects everyone, and in order to maintain incredible surroundings it is up to us to become informed, attentive and accountable in preventing the spread of invasive species.

For more information, visit www.ckipc.ca or www.playcleango.org.

—CENTRAL KOOTENAY INVASIVE PLANT COMMITTEE