Environmentalists and volunteers tackle invasive plants in Lethbridge river valley

Environmentalists and volunteers tackle invasive plants in Old Man River valley
A group of over 40 environmentalists and volunteers made their way to the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands Thursday night to tackle an invasive plant issue. Matt Battochio explains.

Local organizers are calling it the largest weed pull they’ve ever seen. Over 40 southern Albertans descended on the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands Thursday night to rid the river valley of a serious threat. The Helen Schuler Nature Centre, Parks Canada Officials, and a large group of volunteers took part.

“The best thing we can do is identify the problem, have an early detection, and rapid response,” said Curtis Goodman, a resource development co-ordinator at the Helen Schuler Nature Centre.

On top of the hit list: Spotted and Diffuse Knapweed. The invasive species can alter the chemistry of soil and cause major damage to the area.

“The native plants can no longer compete. Think of it like chemical warfare,” Goodman said. “There are jurisdictions throughout southern Alberta and Montana, and even southern B.C., where you can go places and see nothing but knapweed.”

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Fortunately in Lethbridge, the problem has been identified early enough to stop a knapweed takeover. The dozens of volunteers were more than ready to help out.

“The environment and wildlife in the area is pretty important to me,” volunteer Fay Blackmore said. “I care a lot about preserving the natural balance of the coulees.”

The night holds special significance for Jacky Hall-Buckland. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Hall, who the wetlands are named after.

“It’s something that’s important. The park is of course named after my mom,” Hall-Buckland said. “It’s really nice to be able to get rid of the weeds.”

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In total, the group pulled 41 bags of knapweed out of the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands. The hope is this weed pull is just the start, and the awareness raised will help stop the spreading of invasive plants in the area.