Photo of dying Field Scabious plant

Photo of dying Field Scabious plant

Changing the strategy for Buck Flats weeds fight

Over 16 kilometres of Buck Flats Road is infested with a weed known as Field Scabious, that takes over and knocks out native species.

Buck Flats Road has an infested area, called a Containment Zone by the Northwest Invasive Plant Council

Over 16 kilometres between the two Buck Flats bridges are infested with a noxious weed known as Field Scabious.

Field Scabious is a tall, tap-rooted perennial with light-purple flowers, considered noxious by the Ministries of Forests & Agriculture because of how it invades areas and knocks out native species.

“It just doesn’t let anything else grow. It totally takes over,” said Andrea Easton, Field Coordinator with the Northwest Invasive Plant Council (NWIPC).

If natural plants are replaced with Field Scabious or another noxious weed, it changes the habitat for everything, and we tend to lose the natural populations of bugs, birds and animals, she said.

“It’s an ecosystem changer… One good thing is Field Scabious is not actually toxic to cattle like some other invasive weeds.”

The NWIPC is changing their containment strategy in the Buck Flats Containment Zone.

The old plan was a containment polygon (zone), with little or no resources spent on treatment within the zone, but guarding the outskirts of the zone to keep it from spreading. The NWIPC would then slowly treat the sites on the perimeter to shrink the zone until it was manageable.

But Buck Creek runs north through the area, flooding in in the spring and spreading seeds downstream each year, so Easton says the plan wasn’t working.

They’re trying a new strategy to keep Field Scabious from infesting the whole Skeena watershed.

Phase one is getting an accurate inventory of the area and digging or using herbicides to kill the Field Scabious on the roadsides in order to avoid spread by traffic and mowers from the Ministry of Transportation.

“A lot of the locals can see that what we’re doing is different, so this is why,” Easton said.

Membership on the NWIPC is free for the public, and members then give input and assist in developing the strategies.

Go to nwipc.org for more about NWIPC.