Yellow Flag Iris removal project held at Skookumchuck
On Sunday, September 21 the East Kootenay Invasive Plant Council (EKIPC) hosted an event in Skookumchuck to remove an aquatic invasive plant – the yellow flag iris. Although this large iris is beautiful when in flower, it threatens aquatic ecosystems and wetlands in North America, like those at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (CVWMA). Once established in the right conditions, yellow flag iris can easily outcompete native vegetation, creating dense stands of iris-dominant vegetation.
The yellow flag iris infestations in the Creston Valley wetlands along the Kootenay River require many hours of volunteer effort just to keep the plant in check. Removal of the iris is mostly done by hand digging, arduous work because of the huge root systems the plant develops – and it loves to grow in water making digging conditions even more challenging.
Unfortunately, according to the Invasive Species Council of BC, this plant has quickly spread throughout the Okanagan valley, lower Similkameen Valley, Shuswap Lake, Christina Lake and other isolated sites in the West Kootenay. But here in the East Kootenay, the small infestation at Skookumchuck is the only known location of yellow flag iris in the region.
EKIPC’s Program Manager Todd Larsen stated, “it was important to eradicate this plant immediately to prevent further spread from the current location. Left unmanaged, this solitary site could become an even larger problem downstream if it were to disperse and establish itself further down the Kootenay River.”
With volunteer help from the Jimsmith Lake Community Association, the Rocky Mountain Naturalists, and Springbrook Resort, EKIPC staff were able to remove existing patches of yellow flag iris which had spread down a small tributary of the Kootenay River.
The site will need monitoring in future years to ensure the plant does not re-establish itself.
“We were fortunate to catch this single population early on and prevent it from spreading, however, there is still the threat of plant fragments and seeds to repopulate the waterway,” says Larsen.
Without financial support from the Columbia Basin Trust, this critical work would not be possible. EKIPC gratefully acknowledges the Trust’s support to deliver social, economic, and environmental benefits to the residents of the Columbia Basin. For more information please contact Todd Larsen ([email protected]).
Lead image: EKIPC’s Field Operations Coordinator Katie Young carefully removing Yellow Flag Iris from a stream in Skookumchuck.