Local students got a firsthand lesson on rebuilding ecosystems this week.
The Central Kootenay Invasive Plant Committee invited classes from Nelson Waldorf school, Trafalgar middle school, L.V. Rogers secondary, and Selkirk College’s recreation, fish and wildlife program to help plant native trees and shrubs in two Nelson parks where invasive plants have been a problem.
About 100 new trees and shrubs were planted along the dog walk, next to the airport, and another 200 went in along the perimeter of Davie Street park.
Prior to the planting at the park, public work crews came through with a backhoe and dug out several dump truck loads of invasive plants. Project coordinator Jennifer Vogel said the site needed much attention.
“It was covered in mature scotch broom that was five or six years old, as well as other invasives like common tansy, hoary alyssum and spotted knapweed,” she explained, standing in the park Tuesday morning as the all-boys Grade 7 class from Trafalgar got to work with shovels and buckets to pack soil around the trees they were planting in holes pre-dug for them by the city crews.
Vogel said it’s not enough to just pull out the unwanted plants, you need to grow something else there to make it harder for the invasives to reestablish themselves.
“The idea is to create competition against any invasive plants,” Vogel said, also citing other benefits. “We’re also creating erosion control as well as habitat for native birds and trying to regain a native ecosystem.”
Still, she said the invasive plants will grow back next year. The scotch broom had gone to seed before it was removed, and the re-growth will have to be pulled by hand next year to avoid damaging the native plants.
Vogel said the city will take on this ongoing maintenance of the site and an irrigation system will be installed to help encourage healthy growth of the native plants.
“Once the trees and shrubs get big enough, they’ll totally out compete the invasives,” Vogel said.
Funding to buy the trees and shrubs for the site came from Canon’s Take Root grant program. The City of Nelson, Columbia Basin Trust and Selkirk College also provided support for the project.