Chestermere protecting lake from invasive species

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The City of Chestermere is currently working with the Alberta Government to protect the lake from an invasive plant species called flowering rush, which has the potential to reduce the lake’s water quality and negatively impact native plants and wildlife.

Divers recently used suction harvesting to remove flowering rush have yet to be analyzed.

“(The divers) went out there and unfortunately for the testing, the flowering rush wasn’t as prevalent in previous years, but they were able to get out there and did some harvesting,” said Mathew Quinn, integrated pest management technician for the city.

The city is working closely with Nicole Kimmel, weed specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and whose research reveals how serious the flowering rush problem is.

While Canada spends an estimated $30 billion per year on invasive species management, aquatic invasive species are harder to manage than other kinds for reasons like detection and lack of effective control methods.

“The one thing with the flowering rush, which is why it became such a concern, is that it’s such an aggressive plant,” Quinn said. “It has many ways of reproducing and keeping itself alive.”

If not removed properly, he said, small pieces of flowering rush can sprout an entire new plant at an alarming rate.

Kimmel’s research indicates potential treatments for Chestermere Lake include mechanical harvesting, fabric and rubber barriers, suction harvesting and a three-step hand removal process. However, methods for complete eradication still need to be researched.

The City of Chestermere is working with organizations both at a local and provincial level, including Western Irrigation District (WID) and the newly formed Chestermere Watershed Committee.

“We want to continue to collaborate with all these groups,” Quinn said. “We want to keep the lake as free from invasive species as possible.”

Quinn said the public has been very helpful as well, knowing not to disturb invasive species or trying to take care of the problem themselves. He said the best thing to do is to leave the task to the professionals and contact the Parks department if they see any suspicious plants.

“We go out there and monitor constantly, checking the shore line, boats coming in and out –we’ve got a lot of public education programs going on.” Quinn said. “The boat launch tenants at John Peake Park have been talking to residents and visitors all summer, handing out surveys and pamphlets highlighting invasive species.”

Quinn said while the cool fall season makes flowering rush difficult to observe because all that remains are underground roots, receding water levels make it easier to observe other areas of the lake previously hidden.

The city highlighted a different invasive species each week throughout the summer on its website. Other species include Zebra and Quagga mussels, which are also quite resistant to eradication.

For more information, visit chestermere.ca

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