A team of students from the Trail high school joined forces with local habitat stewardships to rid Beaver Creek Provincial Park of invasive species.
Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS), the Kootenay Native Plant Society (KNPS), BC Parks and the Invasive Species Council’s Stronger BC Action Team rallied J.L. Crowe Secondary School students to help plant over 75 native species and spread seeds at a restoration site in Beaver Creek Provincial Park.
The goal of the ongoing work is to create a healthy native plant community that would benefit local native wildlife and pollinators.
This is the fourth year in a row that the CKISS has been improving wildlife habitat at the park.
Over the years the organization has coordinated several community weed pull and native planting events that engage volunteers and students in hands-on restoration activities within their community.
In the spring of 2021, close to 40 Crowe students travelled to Beaver Creek to participate in a river assessment field trip.
One of the stations the students rotated through was a weed pull station hosted by CKISS.
Using hand tools, students were taught how to identify and manually remove invasive plants such as spotted knapweed, hoary alyssum, and green sorrel.
“Our numerous volunteers and students have made a positive impact at the park,” Laurie Frankcom, CKISS program coordinator, said in a release.
“Invasive plants lack predators and can out compete native plant populations for space and resources. This can reduce plant diversity and have a negative impact on native pollinator and wildlife habitat. Any extra hands in removing invasive plants is appreciated since manual treatment is labour intensive.”
The second step was planting native shrubs and spreading native seed.
CKISS consulted with the KNPS to select plants and seed that were suitable for the site and would support a wide range of native pollinators and species at-risk such as the western skink, North American racer and northern rubber boa.
These reptiles are naturally found at Beaver Creek but their numbers are dwindling.
Plants and seeds were grown locally by Kinseed Ecologies based in Nelson, a group that specializes in ecological gardening and native plant seed.
In late October, the team planted a wide range of native species including: tall Oregon-grape, baldhip rose, Idaho fescue, bluebunch wheat grass, parsnip flowered buckwheat, mountain hollyhock, mock orange, Nootka rose, black cap raspberry, snowberry, golden tickseed, thimbleberry, purple meadowrue, mountain sneezeweed and boreal aster.
Native seeds spread at the site were needle and thread grass, porcupine grass, golden aster, silver leaf phacelia and common camas.
Common camas occurs naturally in the park but the population is struggling due to hotter and drier conditions.
Common camas is both an important ecological and cultural plant in the B.C. interior. The plant is now a rare find but was once a dietary staple for many Indigenous Peoples.
“This restoration has truly been a team effort,” said Frankcom. “We could not have done it without the support from BC Parks, students, teachers, and our fantastic partners at KNPS. In addition, the consulting service, the KNPS also generously donated top soil, a variety of native plants and seed, and ran an educational station for the J.L. Crowe students on common camas.”
When visiting Beaver Creek park, CKISS asks the public to be on the lookout for small orange flags that have been placed by each new native species.
The organizations requests visitors to step around these flags and do not disturb them.
The flags serve an important purpose.
They are used for plant survivorship surveys which will steer future restoration activities and plans at the park. CKISS hopes to secure additional funding in order to continue restoration at Beaver Creek Provincial Park in 2022.
To learn more, email Laurie Frankcom at email@example.com.