FORT ST. JOHN – The provincial government is providing $72,300 to two Peace River organizations to help control the spread of invasive plants.

The Peace River Regional District is receiving $47,800 and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality is getting $24,500.

These are two of 31 grants, totalling $1,727,000, that are being distributed throughout the province in 2016 to local governments, regional invasive species committees and the Invasive Species Council of B.C. This funding will be used to help raise public awareness of invasive plant concerns, survey invasive plant populations and actively treat high-priority sites to control the spread of these destructive plants.

This funding is in addition to the $935,000 already allocated by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations for invasive plant control and management in 2016-17.

Invasive plants are species that have been introduced into British Columbia from other areas. They displace native vegetation and can cause considerable economic and environmental damage. Some pose a health risk to people (e.g. skin irritation). Invasive plants can also disrupt natural ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, increase soil erosion, alter soil chemistry and adversely affect commercial crops.

“Invasive species can hurt our ecosystems and as a result, hurt industries like agriculture,” Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm said. “This funding will help prevent invasive species from spreading here in Peace Country.”

“Containing established species, and preventing the establishment of new species, will mitigate the impacts of invasive plants,” Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier said.

The provincial Invasive Plant Program identifies sites where new invasive plant species have been found and responds rapidly to contain and eradicate them before they become established and start spreading.

Currently, some of the targeted invasive plant species in B.C. are marsh plume thistle, European common reed, garlic mustard, knotweed, Spartina, orange and yellow (non-native) hawkweeds, knapweed, giant hogweed, blueweed, common tansy, tansy ragwort, hoary alyssum, field scabious, leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, yellow flag iris, Himalayan balsam and Scotch broom.

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