Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 West Castle Wetlands weed pull

Wendy Ryan, Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition Stewardship Co-ordinator
Justine Jorgensen

On Wednesday, July 23 the Pincher Creek MD weed crew, the Parks Canada weed crew and volunteers from as far away as Montana University and Lethbridge met for the West Castle Wetlands weed pull. The group convened at the Castle Mountain Resort Parking lot and began a day of pulling invasive plants from along the river, completing around ten acres as they focused on the gravel bars and the meadows.
"We were very fortunate to have those staff come out to our weed pull because it puts our numbers up," said Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition Stewardship Co-ordinator Wendy Ryan. This year was the seventh annual weed pull; there were around thirty-two volunteers compared to last year's forty-four - "So, slighty down but still just great workers." Thirty-one bags of weeds were pulled on Wednesday, contrasting the sixty-four bags from seven years ago.

 There are twelve invasive plants that the Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition focuses on in the Wetlands. "It's good to have the co-sponsorship from the federal government to send their federal staff from Waterton, cause that's really huge," Ryan explained. "They're up to their eyeballs with their own invasives and though their weed crew is like twelve people, they did send four. So that's really good."

Ryan described several of the weeds that the group were sent out to pull. One is called Napweed ("Waterton's worst enemy"), that is toxic - if a lot of hand pulling is done it is cancer-causing. It also puts toxins into the ground so nothing will grow beside it. Blue Weed is another that is same in the sense nothing will eat it or grow beside it. "[These weeds] compete with the native plants until we come out and actually sterilize the soil."

Ryan went on to say, "We're the stewards - out of all the ecological reserves and natural areas, Alberta Parks has people in the area that look after them and do reports, so we do a report to the Alberta Native Council here and to Alberta Parks on this site. So we'll tell them how many bags we pulled, how many volunteers we had, and that we're making a difference. And obviously if we've cut our bag load in half, we've done pretty good job."

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