Invasive plants travel easily

In the Burns Lake area, the common tansy, marsh plume thistle and field scabious are invasive species gaining a toehold in the area.

It took almost 500 gallons of water to hose down bikes after their race runs during this year’s Big Pig Mountain Biking Festival in Burns Lake. The intention behind the bike wash station was to raise awareness surrounding the spread of invasive plant species in B.C.

While many mountain bikers at the recent Big Pig Mountain Biking Festival in Burns Lake appreciated the bike wash station available in the Kager Lake recreation site parking lot, they may not have realized that keeping bikes clean after a day of riding was only one aspect of the project.

The bike wash station was an educational initiative put together by the Northwest Invasive Plant Council (NWIPC). The Village of Burns Lake helped out by lending them a 400 gallon water tank and trailer for the weekend.

Volunteers manned a gas-powered pressure washer and cleaned mud and debris from riders’ bikes as they finished their races.

Washing mountain bikes, especially during an event where bikers are travelling great distances for the event (from as far away as the Yukon and Calgary), is a front-line method to prevent the spread of non-native, or invasive, plant species.

Identified by the Environment Canada as being the second greatest threat to Canada’s biodiversity (the first greatest threat to biodiversity is habitat loss), invasive plants are not an innocuous occurrence.

“Transferring plant parts or seeds of invasive plants to new locations without the natural enemies that keep them in check in their native areas gives them a competitive advantage over native B.C. plant species,” said NWIPC spokesperson Steven Kiiskila.

When non-native species proliferate, they can reduce the amount of foliage available for wildlife, interfere with forest regeneration, negatively impact agricultural crops and yields, and impact animal health if the weeds are toxic.

In the Burns Lake area, the common tansy, marsh plume thistle and field scabious are invasive species gaining a toehold in the area. It is important, Kiiskila said, to be able to recognize and identify invasive plants so that you can avoided spreading them.

“Orange and yellow hawkweeds have exploded in the last few years and have reached the point where they are beyond the point where they can be economically treated in most cases,” Kiiskila said.

It’s not only mountain bikers that need to be aware of what they’re bringing from one region to another when they travel. Off-road vehicles, boaters, and even horses can provide an unexpected source of contamination.

“Most invasive plant seed remain viable after passing through a horse’s gut,” said Kiiskila. “It is important to feed weed-free forage for at least three days before a trip. Seeds can also be brought in accidentally as a contaminant in hay, pellets or unclean grain.”

Northern B.C. lakes remain mostly clear of aquatic invasive species like milfoil and zebra mussels.

To keep our lakes free of infestation, the NWIPC recommends boaters thoroughly clean, drain and dry their boats at the shoreline before transporting the boat somewhere else.

Even fly fishermen need to take caution. If they are using felt-soled boots, unintended guests can be lodged in the soaked felt for transfer to another area. Kiiskila recommends either alternating felt-soled boots or using rubber-soled waders instead.

“Prevention is the best solution,” said Kiiskila.

In the Burns Lake region, Darrel Hill of Roots and Shots manages invasive plant control throughout a large section of the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) under contract from the NWIPC.

Hill’s territory stretches from Endako to Moricetown, and from Ootsa Lake to Babine Lake.

Programs exist to help control invasive plants on private property.

The RDBN is a major partner in the program to prevent the further spread of invasive plant species. For more information, contact Hill by email at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vehicles waiting for the highway to reopen. (Shashank Bangera photo/Lakes District News)
Vehicle incident claims life on Highway 16 east of Burns Lake

The accident resulted in highway closure

The victim of a homicide in Houston is Pietro Adamo. (Photo courtesy the RCMP)
Man dies from injuries following assault

Investigators looking for information on this homicide

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

(File graphic)
Man dies in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) after being taken into police custody

IIO and BC Corners Service conducting independent investigations

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read