Students from J.L Crowe are doing their part to increase ecosystem health in the Kootenays

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, invasive species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.  Invasive species are introduced plants, animals, and pathogens that reproduce at high rates and lack any natural predators or controls. As a result, invasive species can negatively affect ecosystems by out-competing native species for resources and space.

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth. It is important as it ensures the survival of humans and it boosts ecosystems’ health and productivity. Healthy ecosystems can better withstand natural disasters and ensures natural sustainability for all life forms.

Grade 11 students from J.L Crowe Secondary School’s Outdoor Education class took their education outside on June 7th. They teamed up with the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS) and Columbia Power  in order to plant 390 native shrubs and conduct a biodiversity assessment at a site close to Waneta Expansion Project.

Students conducting a biodiversity assessment using quadrats,

It was shocking to see how destructive invasive species were, and how something simple like planting non-native plants can so negatively impact the local environment.” – states Dani Bell, Grade 11 student from J.L Crowe Secondary School

The goal is to increase biodiversity and improve ecosystem health at the site. The area is home to three repitle species at risk including; the Western Skink, Rubber Boa and the North American Racer. We hope that planting native species will improve the habitat for these vulnerable reptiles.

“This project is a great way to expose local students to the very unique ecosystems and species that exist in the area and the importance of protecting and enhancing these areas” states Michael Hounjet, Environmental Manager, Columbia Power

Western Skink

“Part of CKISS’ strategic plan is to educate, engage and inspire residents to participate in invasive species prevention and management. At the start of the day, we did an in-class presentation on invasive species; what they are, their impacts and what the students can do to help. By giving students the knowledge and hands on experience necessary to prevent the spread of invasive species we are encouraging youth to become good community stewards.” states Laurie Frankcom, Education Program Coordinator, CKISS

J.L Crowe Secondary, Outdoor Education Class 2017

This field trip is part of a three year project funded by Environment Canada’s Eco Action Community Funding Program and Columbia Basin Trust.  CKISS staff will revisit the site and monitor plant succession.

Every flag is a new native species that has been planted by the students.

This project was made possible with support from:


CKISS appreciates the planting supplies, staff time and expertise that was provided by Columbia Power