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

JL Crowe students help ecosystem health

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

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 6th. 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.

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

“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, Environment Manager, Columbia Power

The goal is to increase biodiversity and improve ecosystem health at the site. The area is home to three reptile 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.

“Part of CKISS’s 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

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 the plot for plant succession.

For more information, contact Laurie Frankcom, Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society, at 844.352.1160 or lfrankcom@ckiss.ca

CKISS is a non-profit society that delivers education and awareness programs, and promotes coordinated management efforts of invasive species in the Regional District of Central Kootenay and Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Area A and B.

CKISS acknowledges the support of its funders, including the Columbia Basin Trust, and Environment Canada’s Eco Action Community Funding Program. CKISS appreciates the planting supplies, staff time and expertise that was provided by Columbia Power. This project would not be possible without their support.