Extremely toxic, poison hemlock. (Photo credit Sarah Weaver)

Temporary closure of Steve’s Ride Trail as Town of Creston treats poison hemlock in area

Starting the week of May 13, 2019, and throughout the coming months, Town crews will begin to use a chemical herbicide to remove poison hemlock.

The Town of Creston will utilize a chemical treatment to eradicate Conium Maculatum, more commonly referred to as poison hemlock. The application of Glyphosate in the area adjacent to the “Steve’s Ride” trail began on Monday, May 13, 2019, temporarily closing the trail until approximately 1 pm on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.

The invasive and poisonous plant, which is non-native to North America, is currently ranked as one of the Top Ten priority invasive plants in British Columbia. According to the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS) in Nelson, there are only three sites in the Central Kootenay region; all of which are in the Creston area. “We are now at a point that we need to take an extremely focused effort in eliminating this toxic plant from our public spaces while this remains an option”, stated Town of Creston Chief Administrative Officer Michael Moore.

The Town has been battling this weed for several years, particularly along the popular “Steve’s Ride” trail connecting 11th Avenue and Cedar Street. “Town crews have monitored and utilized both manual and mechanical removal of the plant, but each year it continues to come back”, Moore said. He cited a recent email from CKISS who have provided advice to the Town for a number of years in managing invasive weeds, and on the health risks to employees of doing so.

“We reached out to find better solutions and were advised that at this point, chemical control is the less dangerous option to our employees and the public”, Moore said. The CKISS website (https://ckiss.ca/species/poison-hemlock/) states that poison hemlock should not be mowed, as mowing can disperse inhalable toxins into the air which is dangerous for humans and animals. Ingestion can be fatal, resulting in respiratory paralysis. “Our employees are required to wear chemical resistant coveralls with a hood, full face shield and respirator while manually removing the plant, yet after we are done the wet sap from the plant would still be on the ground. At this point, chemical treatment is the only feasible option”, Moore stated.

Starting the week of May 13, 2019, and throughout the coming months, Town crews will begin to use a chemical herbicide to remove the plant requiring the temporary closure of “Steve’s Ride” trail from 11th Avenue up towards the bike park near Cedar Street. The remaining portions of the property will receive spot applications of the herbicide followed by closing the treated area for 48 hours. “We will mark the treated area with stakes, flagging tape and signage. None of these areas are high traffic and are likely not utilized by the public. We just ask that people keep their pets on the trail to ensure no harm comes to off-leash animals from the use of the herbicide”, added Moore.

“It’s interesting that the three known sites of this plant are in the Creston area”, said Town of Creston Mayor Ron Toyota. “We have been diligent over the past number of years to limit the use of chemicals in our parks and open spaces, now we need to do our part in eradicating this toxic plant from our public spaces”. Mayor Toyota noted that no treatment is planned for any parks such as Centennial Park where it is common to have children playing in the field. “Right now, the majority of the problem is located in the Dodd’s Creek area along one trail system, the adjacent hill and field”, the Mayor added. “I was advised by our Staff that treatment at our Wastewater Treatment Facility and other Town properties will also take place but these are not publicly utilized areas.”

Moore advises to stay out of the identified and marked treated areas. “Check our website and Facebook page as the Town will post public areas under treatment”, Moore added. “We want to let people know when we are planning work in an area to increase awareness, especially as we monitor all of our trail networks and public spaces. More information on the spot applications being performed to manage poison will be posted on our website and questions may be directed to our Public Works Department 250-428-2214”.


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