zebra mussels
Zebra & Quagga Mussels (Dreisssena polmorpha & Dreissena bugenis)

Working Together to Prevent Aquatic Invasive Species

Four invasive species committees and Columbia Basin Trust have come together with the goal to develop one cohesive strategy and implementation plan to address Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in the Columbia Basin. The goal of this collaboration is to reduce the spread and prevent the introduction of invasive species that pose significant risk in this region.

This month, Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee (CKIPC), East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council (EKIPC), Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) and North West Invasive Plant Council (NWIPC), along with 20 other participants came together to discuss how to address and prevent AIS in the Basin. Participants represented provincial and local government, hydro-electric power, First Nations fisheries, non-profit societies, stewardship groups and compliance and enforcement officers.

“Aquatic invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels can be extremely damaging to our ecosystems and economy,” says Crystal Klym, Executive Director of CKIPC. “Once they arrive here they are extremely difficult to get rid of so developing strategies to prevent them is key.”

Zebra and quagga mussels have infested waterways as close as Manitoba and Colorado. Boats traveling from these waters into the Columbia Basin can transport these mussels and introduce them into local waterways – something that many partners are trying to prevent.

“Residents identified invasive species as one of the priorities to address in our strategic planning sessions last year,” says Tim Hicks, Columbia Basin Trust, Manager of Water and Environment. “We are really excited about the collaborative efforts of the local invasive species councils. We’re adding our support to help enhance and expand these efforts to implement a strategy that will reduce and prevent the spread of invasive species in the Basin.”

“Although we tend to focus on the invasive mussels, there are many other species that can impact our waterways,” emphasizes Klym. “Invasive plant species like yellow flag-iris and flowering rush can escape from garden ponds and enter our rivers, lakes and wetlands, choking out native species and impacting wildlife habitat.”

This Steering Committee will guide the development of the strategy and implementation plan which is expected to be completed by spring of 2015.

To find out more about aquatic invasive species contact your local invasive plant committee or visit www.ckipc.ca.

For more information about Columbia Basin Trust and its environment focus visit cbt.org/environment.