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   Volume 81 - Issue 32 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: news@passherald.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
"Campfires need to be cool enough to touch to be considered 'out'."
- Karen Ritchie, SRD  


John Kinnear photo
You have probably noticed that “Echium vulgare” is showing up more and more around the Pass. In fact this nasty invader is spreading at an alarming rate along roadsides, right-of-ways, pathways, back yards and alleys, pastures and just about anywhere it can send down that cast iron two- foot taproot. It loves disturbed ground and coarse, sandy and gravel surfaces.
What you may or may not realize is that this foreigner is taking over the countryside and displacing a lot of natural unweedy types. While their purple-blue, funnel-shaped flowers may seem quite attractive don’t be deceived by this non- native, noxious, sneaky blue blight. It is an invasive noxious weed and is particularly destructive to the native environment of the Pass.
Story 1
John Kinnear photo
The spotted knapweed is an allelopathic weed that makes the soil around it more acidic so that other weeds cannot grow in the surrounding soil. Echium vulgare or blue weed is a little less sophisticated but just as effective as knapweed. It spreads out rosettes in its first year on the ground that smothers any other plant that tries to grow anywhere near it. In the second year comes that tall flowering stalk. Each individual stalk of this prolific invader can kick out up to 2,800 seeds. It’s kind of like rabbits. Just a few get things going and then all of a sudden there’s a problem. Only this problem could, if left unchecked, completely alter the landscape of the Crowsnest Pass in a very short time.
I am reminded of the H.G.Wells’ novel, “War of the Worlds”, in which the Martian red weed swept over the planet. It eventually succumbed to a terrestrial pathogenic bacteria along with the Martians. In the case of blue weed, its arrest will only happen as a result of a concerted effort over many years by Municipal Agricultural Fieldman Kim Lutz and her licensed contractors and also by every single individual in the Crowsnest Pass. Kim’s crews are working under the Alberta Weed Control Act and Regulations to control weeds on municipal lands this summer. Kim also works closely with SRD, TransCanada Pipelines, CP Rail and the DOT to control weeds on some of their lands. This is important as it allows her to control infestations across sections of land with multiple owners.
Lutz also has two Riparian Restoration Technicians whose focus is on pulling taproot weed species in riparian areas on municipal land. They have to date worked the east half of Blairmore and Drum Creek and are headed up Lyons Creek next. Their work is made possible by a joint grant between the Crowsnest Conservation Society and the Municipality from the Alberta Conservation Association.
The chemical control contractor’s use ATV’s or spray trucks and the chemicals they use vary depending on proximity to water and to the type of plant being attacked. The contractors are working east to west until mid-August and will resume their work in the fall to try to control the worst infestations of biennial weeds like blue weed and mullein on Municipal land.
In the Pass, Kim is actively working to control about 15 or more invasive weeds of the 75 that exist out there. This entails contacting land owners by mail or phone and discussing the problem. The act empowers her to issue a weed notice with a deadline. If residents refuse to act or don’t act after indicating that they would, the notice is issued. If this is unsuccessful contractors are sent in to do the control and if they (the land owners) don’t pay for the work it is added to their Municipal tax roll.
Kim has been working hard to coordinate the control of weeds in the Crowsnest Pass since 2009. This includes building relationships with land owners and educating the public on the importance of controlling invasive weeds in the Pass to protect our natural landscape.
The blueweed is a smart and highly invasive plant and has been known to flower and seed at different times. We are getting close to their seeding now so that is why I suggest to you that it is also the responsibility of every one of us to do our part. When it shows up in your flower beds or back alley pounce on it. In your wanderings about the Pass if you spot a patch of it take the time to rip it out. An ignored blueweed will soon become a patch you can’t ignore. Make sure you wear gloves as it is kind of prickly and very itchy but not poisonous.
A day prior to the dedication of the community trail I spotted a determined blueweeder by the name of Bernice on her knees with a dandelion stabber religiously digging out the rosettes on the trail by the old skate board park. Bernice understands full well the threat it presents to our landscape and as an individual is prepared to go the extra mile to control it.
Story 1
John Kinnear photo
Blueweed is also called viper’s bugloss but it was also the name of a lovely little moth in the United Kingdom that the government declared extinct in 1998 due to habitat destruction. Wouldn’t it be nice to say someday that the plant version of viper’s bugloss is also extinct in this area!
You know the old saying. “”I can’t do everything, but if everyone does something everything will get done.” We as individuals can’t wipe this blue blight out but working together as a community we can make sure it doesn’t get to an unmanageable level.
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   Volume 81 - Issue 32 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: news@passherald.ca   $1.00   
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