Maple Ridge working on knotweed strategy

Greta Borick-Cunningham and Doug Stanger of the Alouette River Managerment Society examine Japanese knotweed along Millionare Creek, near the mouth of the Alouette River. - The News/Files
Greta Borick-Cunningham and Doug Stanger of the Alouette River Managerment Society examine Japanese knotweed along Millionare Creek, near the mouth of the Alouette River.
— image credit: The News/Files

Maple Ridge does have a Japanese knotweed problem, council heard Monday.

And that’s why it’s working on a noxious weed control strategy that should be ready in a few months.

Laurie Kremsater, with Madrone Environmental Services, told council that the invasive plant, which can send its roots through pavement and wreak havoc with infrastructure, has established itself here.

Kremsater said she was surprised by the extend of knotweed here.

“It’s a big deal. It will take over streams.”

To kill the plant, eradication crews must inject a herbicide called glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up. Smaller plants require targeted spraying. Digging out the knotweed or cutting it will cause it to spread farther.

But Maple Ridge is working on a plan to help it tackle high-risk invasive plants like knotweed, formerly sold in nurseries as a landscaping plant and giant hogweed, whose sap can burn human skin and eyes.

A draft strategy, rolled out to council Monday, says the district should involve conservation groups, utility companies and other levels of government so it can take a unified approach in combating weeds. There’s no point ridding one area of invasive plants if the agency responsible for nearby land doesn’t do the same.

Once partnerships are in place, educational material can be handed out to get out the word about invasive plants. Conservation groups, such as the Alouette River Management Society, would be happy to hand out such material as well as track invasive plants, Kremsater said.

As well, tactics for prevention should be developed and a disposal site for invasive weeds should be found, it says. That could be located at the waste transfer station and could be the first step, suggested Coun. Al Hogarth.

Once the framework’s in place, the coordinator will prioritize attacks on invasives in Maple Ridge.

One tactic will be to focus on least disturbed areas first, which quicker and easier control, which costs less.

Public education is also part of the strategy. When people can recognize the weeds, they can report them and they can be controlled. But accurate verification is important because a plant that was important to butterflies was mistaken for hogweed North Vancouver which led to its destruction, Kremsater said. She added that Maple Ridge’s bylaws were progressive and helped control of invasive plants. The Untidy and Unsightly Premises bylaw can be used to order removal of weeds from private properties.

If council approves the final strategy in the next few months, inventory and mapping of invasive plants can begin.

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