CKISS Volunteer Award Presented to a Mother-Daughter Invasive Plant Pulling Team in Creston

Alison Masters and Catherine Prowse are the recipients of the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS) 2020 Volunteer of the Year Award. The passionate mother daughter weed pulling duo have been volunteering with CKISS since 2007 by participating in Community Pulling Together Events at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Centre (CVWMA). Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, a Community Pulling Together event took place this year at CVWMA with additional safety protocols and disinfection polices in place to keep everyone safe.  Volunteers and CKISS staff removed several patches of dense yellow flag iris from the important wetland.

The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area is a wetland of international importance; it is home to over 300 birds, 60 mammals, 17 fish and 6 amphibian species plus thousands of invertebrates and plant species. Without habitat management, it would not be possible for the area to support this level of biodiversity.

During a Communities Pulling Together event, a group of volunteers uses hand tools to remove an invasive plant infestation in their community. Volunteers receive hands-on learning experiences on the impacts invasive plants can have on ecosystems and economies. In addition, they learn about plant ecology, proper removal and disposal techniques.  These events are highly regarded and a fun way to develop environmental ambassadors.

Community groups that successfully complete a weed pull event receive a $250 honorarium.  Alison Masters organizes these events on behalf of the Creston Options for Sexual Health Clinic.

We are thrilled to recognize Alison and Catherine’s years of hard work and tenacity at these events. The Creston volunteer team love to roll up their sleeves and get involved in a project with tangible results. They can see that they can make a difference in only a few hours and have a sense of pride with their accomplishments,” states CKISS Education Program Coordinator Laurie Frankcom

CKISS has listed Yellow Flag Iris as a priority species because it is capable of invading new areas quickly, spreading by seeds and rhizome fragments.  Once established it outcompetes native plant species and ultimately disrupt an area’s ecosystem. These disturbances result in reduced habitat suitability and support for wildlife – especially for breeding, staging, and migrating waterfowl. In addition, the plant can sicken livestock if ingested and can cause skin irritation in humans.

Yellow Flag Iris is a “wet-footed” plant that grows in ponds, ditches, wetlands and other riparian habitats. From May to July Yellow Flag Iris is easily recognizable, with a pale yellow flower that resembles a garden iris. Over the years, the CKISS has conducted invasive plant surveys in the region; however, they still heavily rely on reports from the public.

Prevention is the best tool in our toolbox to stop the spread of invasive species and next in line is early detection and rapid response. We urge folks to visit our website (CKISS.ca) in order to educate themselves on how to ID and report high priority invasive species in their communities” states Laurie Frankcom.

How did Yellow Flag Iris get there in the first place?

The invasive plant was introduced through the horticulture industry when gardeners planted it into their water gardens. It has now “jumped the garden fence” and ended up in natural areas causing environmental harm. CKISS is an active ambassador for the provincial-wide PlantWise program.  PlantWise was designed to educate and motivate both the horticulture industry and home gardeners to choose safe alternatives or native plants instead of invasive ones.Plantwise Logo

If you are interested in organizing a Community Weed Pull in your area please reached out to Laurie Frankcom, 1-844-352-1160 ext. 208 or lfrankcom@ckiss.ca

CKISS gratefully acknowledges the support of its funders, including Columbia Basin Trust, The Province of BC Community Gaming Grant and the RDCK Community Initiatives and Affected Area Programs.  Community Pulling Together events are possible with their support!