Students from G.W. Graham school pull invasive ivy from Island 22 on Thursday.

Students from G.W. Graham school pull invasive ivy from Island 22 on Thursday.

Alien plants pulled at Island 22

Some invasive plants were being pulled from Island 22 Regional Park last week thanks to a group of G.W. Graham students involved in Take Action Day.

Some invasive plants were being pulled from Island 22 Regional Park last week thanks to a group of G.W. Graham students involved in Take Action Day.

Several plant species are getting out of hand, and upsetting the delicate balance in FVRD Parks lately. So regional district staff has been working to identify and control the plants before they do more harm, said FVRD Parks technician Gord Gadsden.

“Wetland ecosystems can be damaged by the proliferation of these invasive plants,” he explained. “We can’t be spraying pesticides at the park, so this work is really going to be beneficial.”

Part of the problem is these alien species compete with local plant species for nutrients, land and water, and they have no natural predators. They can cause significant crop losses and economic hardship if unchecked.

It was the school’s second time assisting FVRD Parks staff.

“The kids also helped out last year and I think they enjoyed it,” said Gadsden. “They get their hands dirty but it’s a good educational opportunity.”

At least one of the introduced species being removed last week at Island 22 Regional Park by G.W. Graham students could understandably be confused with a harmless wildflower plant.

Called False Lamium, it’s an aggressive ground cover plant with silver foliage, and bright, yellow flowers. It’s often tucked into planters and containers but occasionally ends up proliferating in parks because of thoughtless residents who illegally dump their clippings there.

“These are ecosystem altering plants we’re talking about, and they’re very frustrating to control.”

Other plants are being targeted as well, such as Purple Loostrife, Scotch broom and Yellow Flag Iris — all of which can move in and take over. Others include English Ivy, or thorny Himalayan Blackberry, and even Giant Hogweed, which requires caution because it can cause severe burns.

GWG teacher Jeanie Wilson said the Island 22 weed pulling activity was one of about 20 “service learning” options the students had to choose from on Take Action Day.

“It is a great opportunity for our students who love the outdoors to volunteer their energy and time to make a concrete difference to our environment and our community,” she said. “A lot of teenagers are very environmentally concerned and want to use their energy in positive way.”

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