J. L. Crowe students rallied around Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society and other environmental groups to help remove invasive plants at Beaver Creek Provincial Park and replace with native plants and seeds. Photo: Submitted

J. L. Crowe students rallied around Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society and other environmental groups to help remove invasive plants at Beaver Creek Provincial Park and replace with native plants and seeds. Photo: Submitted

Trail students help with habitat enhancement at Beaver Creek Park

J. L. Crowe students help remove invasive plants and replace with native plant and seeds

A team of students from J.L. Crowe joined forces with local habitat groups 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 Crowe students to help plant over 75 native species and spread seeds at a restoration site at Beaver Creek Provincial Park.

The goal of the project 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 on the ground restoration activities within their community.

In the spring of 2021, close to 40 Crowe students travelled to Beaver Creek Park 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 ID 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 outcompete 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. The plants and seeds were grown locally by Kinseed Ecologies based in Nelson, a group that specialize 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.

The native seeds that were spread at the site were needle and thread grass, porcupine grass, golden aster, silver leaf phacelia and common camas.

According to KNPS common camas occurs naturally in the park but the population is struggling due to the hotter and drier conditions. Common camas is both an important ecological and cultural plant in the Interior of B.C. The plant is now a rare find but was a dietary staple for many indigenous groups.

“This restoration has truly been a team effort,” said Frandcom. “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 the CKISS want the public to be on the lookout for small orange flags that have been placed by each new native species. The organizations asks that you 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.The 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 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. http://www.ckiss.ca

Started in 2019, KinSeed Ecologies is a Nelson-based company that specializes in truly native seeds and plants and ecological restoration and landscaping consulting and coaching. Although focusing their work in the West Kootenay region, they have clients and projects in the Boundary, Columbia-Shuswap, and East Kootenay regions. Website: kinseed.ca

City of TrailJL Crowe Secondary School