Coastal Invasive Species Committee

May 2015 E-News

I   - Coastal ISC News and Updates
II  - Upcoming Events
III - Peo
ple in Action
IV  - Regional News
V   - BC and International News
VI  - Resources and Tidbits

Photo: Garden yellow loosestrife (R. McElroy)

I -  Coastal ISC News and Updates

June 12th, 2015:  Coastal ISC Spring Forum, AGM and Field Tour
Early Bird Registration is Now Open!
Join an extensive network of practitioners, land managers and local citizens working in or concerned about invasive species for a full day of fascinating speakers and engaging field tours.  This is the 10th annual Coastal ISC Spring Forum, AGM and Field Tour. The theme for our event is: Action Against Double Jeopardy: Climate Change and Invasive Species

When: June 12th, 2015
Where:  Deep Bay Marine Field Station, Deep Bay on Vancouver Island BC (
see map)
Register: on or before May 20th and save $10 ($55 after May 20).

Click here to  register TODAY!

Given it's the 10th year the format for the day will be reversed. At 9:30 am, get on your gumboots and meet at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station, grab a coffee, and join a carpool to head out for the field tours at Royston Wrecks (Hilton road beach access) to view the Blue Carbon project (saltmarsh and eel grass restoration) and Spartina patens (intertidal cordgrass) control trials.

In the afternoon, we will regroup at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station to have lunch, and hold the Annual General Meeting and director nominations. Presentations and discussion will follow in the afternoon. Confirmed speakers include Becky Brown, Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNR) who will present Changes to the Weed Control Act and Matthias Herborg, FLNR on the new provincial EDRR plan to stop Zebra and Quagga Mussels. More speakers will be announced shortly. Other presentations will cover Coastal ISC highlights from the 2014 season, unveiling the 5 year strategic plan, priority species, and proposed workplan for 2015.  We hope to see you there!

Coastal ISC is seeking Directors
Interested in expanding your network of people working in invasive species management on Vancouver Island? Want to raise the profile of your organization or profession?  These are just some of the benefits Directors gain from being on this dynamic Board. We are looking to fill vacant seats on the Coastal ISC Board of Directors this summer. Directors serve a 2-year term and meet quarterly for a full day in either Duncan or Nanaimo. If you are interested or would like more details, please contact Rachelle McElroy at (250) 857-2472 or email

Update on 2015 Knotweed Workshop
On March 10th 2015, Coastal ISC, BC Parks and BC Ministry of Transportation coordinated a successful workshop on knotweed to discuss current treatment strategies. Over 70 individuals attended the workshop from nonprofit organizations, businesses, and provincial and local governments. Several experts from BC and Washington delivered presentations about knotweed treatment and controls. The goals were to share information, identify effective treatment methods, identify knowledge gaps and future strategies, and contribute towards a revised best practices document. We thank everyone who participated in this workshop!  Presentations are available here.

Staff News
Karen Barry joined Coastal ISC in April 2015 as a part-time Project Coordinator to fill in while Alison Millham is on leave. Karen is a registered Professional Biologist with a Master’s degree in Biology from the University of Victoria. She has worked in government, research and the non-profit sector. From her previous experience coordinating volunteer programs, Karen enjoys working with the public and delivering outreach programs. Karen lives in Nanaimo and is passionate about conservation and restoration of our coastal ecosystems.  In her spare time, Karen is an avid gardener, birdwatcher and she enjoys hiking and canoeing.  Karen will be running local government knotweed programs on Vancouver Island, assisting with the Spring Forum, as well as providing support to the committee. You can reach Karen at

We are happy to welcome Kelsey Cullen back later this month, to the team as our Field and Outreach Assistant working with Rachelle out of the Victoria office.  Kelsey is originally from the Okanagan and is studying marine biology at the University of Victoria. She has a passion for invasive species and is happy to be part of a team to reduce impacts of invasive species! Catch Kelsey on the phone, answering landowner questions about invasive species management, at various local outreach events, and providing support to land owners dealing with the European Fire Ant. Come and meet Kelsey and Karen at our June 12th Spring Forum.

2015 Field Season
Coastal ISC staff and our dedicated Board of Directors have been working hard this winter to prepare for the 2015 field season.  We look forward to building on last years' successful season, in which we conducted Inventories; managed over 13 hectares of lands containing Priority Invasive Species; responded to hundreds of invasive plant reports; and provided information on management options to land owners, local government, and community groups. Last year, we reached over 2000 people through presentations, events and training workshops.  We are continuing to partner with several local governments to carry out Knotweed Control Programs and public outreach in the Comox Valley Regional District, the Town of Qualicum Beach, the City of Parksville, the City of Nanaimo, and the Nanaimo Regional District. In addition, we have initiated a Strategic Planning process to refine Coastal ISC's future goals and objectives, and we look forward to discussing this at the upcoming Spring Forum on June 12th.

We are continuing to promote the Alienbusters program and distribute the “Knot On My Property” information brochure to local governments and other interested groups. If you would like to order some Knotweed brochures, please contact us at

Stay connected!
If you have any questions or updates to share about invasive species projects, please contact us at

To keep updated on Coastal ISC news and events, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and on our website.

II - Upcoming Events

May 2015 - Industrial Vegetation and Noxious Weeds Pesticide Applicators Course in Victoria (Register May 12-14) and Kamloops (Register May 26-28)

May 2015 - Broombusters begins work parties from Campbell River to Cowichan Valley and west to Port Alberni.  The 2015 schedule is available online.

May 22-23, 2015 - Parks Canada BioBlitz at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites. Register online.

June 3-4, 2015 - Private Forest Landowners Association meeting, Courtenay

June 10-11, 2015 - The Coastal Silviculture Committee summer meeting, Port McNeill

June 12, 2015 - Coastal ISC 10th Annual Forum, Field Tour, AGM Deep Bay Field Station, BC. Register today!

July 17 -18, 2015 - Parks Canada BioBlitz at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, Saturna Island. Register online.

September 20-24, 2015 - 13th International Conference on Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions, Waikoloa, Hawaii
III - People in Action

Gorse is a thorny, nasty invader in Parksville Qualicum Beach
by Auren Ruvinsky - Parksville Qualicum Beach News, April 7, 2015
It's gorse season in Parksville Qualicum Beach. Like broom, the invasive gorse weed should be cut while it's in bloom, before the seed pods form. Local volunteers organized a gorse cutting event along the Island Highway around Resort Row and the industrial park in Parksville. Officially recognized as a noxious weed by the provincial government, there are also local bylaws making it property owner's responsibility to deal with it on their land. Read the full article here.


IV - Regional News

New funding in BC supports invasive plant work
On April 17, 2015 the BC government announced that they will provide over $1.7 million in new grants to help control the spread of invasive plants.  The 29 grants will be given to regional invasive species committees, local governments and the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia to support activities and the goals of the provincial Invasive Plant Program. This funding will be used to continue Coastal ISC’s  education and outreach programming on Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and the mainland coast. Read more.

Photo: Giant Hogweed (B. Brown)

Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group Update
The BC Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group (IMISWG) has recently completed three strategic documents including an Invasive Species Strategic Plan (Dec 2014), an Invasive Species Early Detection and Rapid Response Plan for British Columbia (Nov 2014), and a Zebra and Quagga Mussel Early Detection and Rapid Response Plan for British Columbia (Feb 2015).  All three plans are available on the IMISWG website.

Donation helps battle invasive species in Stanley Park
By John Mackie, Postmedia News, April 27, 2015
After the 2006 windstorm in Stanley Park, many invasive, non-native plants flourished in the wake of the big blowdown. Over 500 volunteers with the Stanley Park Ecology Society have been diligently working with Vancouver Park Board staff to uproot the invaders and replace them with native plants.  But it costs money. A recent donation from the Stanley Park Brewing company will support invasive species projects in Stanley Park. “We definitely have an ongoing need to remove invasive, non-native plants from Stanley Park,” said Patricia Thomson, Executive Director of the Stanley Park Ecology Society. “English Ivy, Himalayan blackberry, yellow flag iris — there’s upwards of 60 different species of invasive plants in the park. Community volunteers help us manually remove those species.” Read more.

Goats take a bite out of Esquimalt park’s invasive plants
By Sarah Petrescu, Times Colonist, April 24, 2015
A dozen weed-munching special guests were invited to an Esquimalt park this week to help celebrate Earth Day. “Goats love to chew on invasive plants like blackberries, ivy, Scotch broom and weeds — even more than grass,” said Beverly Ness, co-owner of the Parksville business Goats on the Hoof. The goats were at Esquimalt’s Highrock Park on Wednesday and Thursday as part of a community effort to weed out invasive species and plant native trees. Plants such as broom, Himalayan blackberry, daphne, English ivy and holly threaten the park’s Garry oak ecosystem, the city said. Read more.
Photo: Daphne laurel (K. Barry)

Hope for Chilliwack homeowners with European fire ants
By Jennifer Feinberg, Chilliwack Progress, April 24, 2015

Promising research to eradicate European fire ants (or EFAs) was of huge interest to a packed house in Chilliwack. The information session on EFAs drew a crowd of about 100 at Chilliwack secondary Wednesday night. Entomologist Robert Higgins, B.C.'s foremost expert on ants, was one of the speakers addressing homeowners, business people and realtors. Higgins, a researcher with Thompson Rivers, has been helping homeowners identify European fire ants, which are known to swarm in large numbers and bite when nests are disturbed. "Identification is a big issue for people because these ants are very tricky to identify," Higgins told the Progress. They are small and red, characterized by two waists, and a stinger, which can be seen under a microscope. They arrived in B.C. about five years ago, and are confirmed to be present in Chilliwack.  Chilliwack residents have been shipping the researcher specimens to ID in the past few years, and some are looking for ways to clear the nests which have made their backyards virtually unusable. Read more.

V -  BC and International News

BC's mussel defense program
March 31, 2015
KELOWNA - The Province is expanding its fight against invasive mussels with a $1.3-million boost toward early detection and rapid response. Although these invasive species have never been detected in British Columbia, this program expansion increases protection of B.C.’s lakes and rivers against the threat of quagga and zebra mussels. The strengthened invasive mussel defense program begins operations in April for the 2015 boating season. Teams will inspect and, if necessary, decontaminate boats entering B.C. from Alberta. They also will respond to boats from the U.S. identified as a concern by the Canadian Border Services Agency, as well as U.S. partner agencies. Twenty-four new highway signs featuring the Clean, Drain, Dry program are also being installed at significant entry points into the province. Read more.

Beneficial ants being mistaken for invasive species in Naramata
InfoNews, May 4, 2015
PENTICTON - A beneficial native species of ant is being mistaken for an invasive species according to a Thompson Rivers University researcher. Following an InfoNews story on the European fire ant, several people have taken to social media to express fear those ants have taken up residence in their neighbourhood. University researcher Dr. Rob Higgins noted the similarity between the native thatching ant and the European fire ant. Higgins discovered European fire ants in Naramata in 2013 and is currently working on a plan to eliminate the invasive species in that community. As far as he knows, Naramata is the only area in the interior of the province where the ant is found, as they prefer the wetter climate of the coast. The difference between an ant bite and a sting may not be apparent to most people. “Fire ants are tough to identify and many people confuse them with thatching ants which are native and tend to bite, not sting,” Higgins noted in an email. Read more

Invasive Species Systematic Review
March 2015
The Convention on Biological Diversity has reported that invasive species rank as the 2nd greatest cause of species extinction (COP10). This Systematic Review was commissioned by the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) Invasives Causing Extinction (ICE) programme to determine if the COP10 statement was based on scientific evidence. This Systematic Review addressed the following two fundamental questions: (a) what proportion of threatened species have an invasive species as a significant contributor to their decline, and (b) through what mechanisms do invasive species contribute towards the decline of native species? Results from this review show that invasive species likely play a crucial and devastating role in driving species extinctions, and that the topic has been vastly understudied. Of all studies that investigated the impact of invasive species on US threatened species, 80% reported a negative impact. Read the full report.

More time needed for Japanese insects to tackle Britain’s knotweed problem
By William Hollingworth, The Japan Times, May 3, 2015
Five years after thousands of Japanese bugs were released into Britain to control the spread of a superweed, scientists say more time is needed to assess whether the ambitious project will succeed. The psyllids — Aphalara itadori — were reared in laboratories from a sample brought over from their native habitat in Japan where they suck the sap from Japanese knotweed and keep the plant in check, along with a range of other bugs  Since 2003, scientists from CABI, a nonprofit organization that provides scientific expertise, have worked on finding a more natural solution. They have been releasing the bugs on to knotweed at several trial sites since 2010. The project, which is the first time a foreign insect has been deliberately released into the European Union to tackle a weed, has had mixed results.  Read more.

Nurseries join effort against invasive plants
By John Holland, The Modesto Bee, May 4, 2015

An alliance is taking on water hyacinth, Scotch broom and other introduced plants that threaten California’s wildlands, farms and waterways. The campaign, PlantRight, aims to get gardeners to avoid species that can do damage. It is led by a group called Sustainable Conservation, which is based in San Francisco and has a branch office in Modesto. Monday, leaders announced that The Home Depot has joined the effort at its stores in Modesto, Ceres, Turlock, Riverbank and many other locations. The chain has agreed to phase out problem plants from its garden centers.  Read More

The monk parakeet: Tracking an invasive bird
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), ScienceDaily, April 27, 2015
According to a new study, the monk parakeets that have invaded Europe and North America over the last 40-50 years, fortifying their massive communal nests atop utility poles in many urban areas, appear to have originated from the same small area in South America. Read more.

Invasive lionfish discovered in Brazil
By Allie Wilkinson, Nature News, April 27, 2015
Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific region but over the last three decades, they have overwhelmed the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, eating or out-competing native species in what has been called the worst marine invasion ever. Now the fish seem to have extended their range to South America. Researchers reported the first confirmed lionfish in Brazilian waters on 22 April. The piscine pioneer was spotted by a group of recreational divers on 10 May 2014 in a reef off Cabo Frio, a municipality of Rio de Janeiro in southeastern Brazil. Lionfish are voracious predators, indiscriminately eating anything small enough to fit in their mouths — such as native fish and crustaceans — in large quantities. Read more.


VI - Resources and Tidbits

New Video - Mussel Threat: Protecting BC’s Freshwater.  By Okanagan filmmaker Brynne Morrice illustrates the danger of invasive mussels and includes a call to action to protect BC's freshwater habitats. Click here to watch the video.

New invasive species added to the Clearview and Sightline labels 
Twelve new weed species have been added to both these labels which will help in the control of invasive weeds. The weeds added include serious invasives like purple loosestrife, Japanese knotweed, diffuse knapweed, baby’s-breath and orange hawkweed. The list also includes wild caraway, wild carrot and wild parsnip. See

Forest Invasives Canada
Provides a portal for information about invasive species that threaten Canada's urban and working forests and green spaces. The website features profiles of target species, recent research and management strategies, and in-depth discussions on the overall ecological, social, and economic impacts of invasive species in our forests. See

Invasive Electric Ants in Australia
A new video aimed at raising public awareness about an invasive ant in northern Australia. For more information, contact Sarah Concoran
Click here to watch the video.

On the Lighter Side...

Thank you for your continued support!

Coastal ISC Staff and Partners in Action!

Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers, Seedy Saturday

Crews removing invasives along the Trans Canada Trail (Photo B. Brown)


2014 Spring Forum