Invasive hawkweeds targeted

The Peace River Regional District is turning its attention to eradicating invasive hawkweed - in 2021.

A campaign set to start this year has been pushed to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Hawkweeds are closely related to dandelions, and easy to identify by their brights orange and red and yellow flowers. There are eight species native to B.C., however, another 14 species that are invasive, according to the Invasive Species Council of BC.

Kari Bondaroff, environmental services manager for the PRRD, says early detection and prevention is key — hawkweeds spread by root and seed to form dense roots that choke out native grasses and kill pasture forage for livestock. The weeds are inedible and contain zero nutrients.

“Thankfully we don’t have a huge amount of it at this point, the detriments are mostly to agriculture," Bondaroff said.

“Once those plants are in there, the producers are going to struggle to get rid of them. So we’re really trying to increase awareness, so that people are reporting them and able to identify them quickly.”

A campaign was set to start in earnest this year, but has been pushed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The PRRD meanwhile continues a campaign to eradicate invasive species of daisies, including the Chamomile and Oxeye Daisy, which are invasive perennials considered regionally noxious under the BC Weed Control Act. Free dumping is provided at the North Peace, Chetwynd, and Bessborough landfills. 

The PRRD has received 59 invasive plant complaints so far this year for camomile, daisies, hawkweed, tansies, and thistle.

There are two field service assistants who hand pull invasive plants on a daily basis, while a compliance and enforcement officer responds to weed complaints.

“We’re finally starting to see a little bit of a shift to different species, which is nice. We’re trying to target some of those species that we don’t have a lot infestations on,” Bondaroff said.

Email reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca

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