The Alberta Invasive Species Council 2020 EDD award goes to Gerry Ehlert and John Slater. This award recognizes the importance of EDD invasive species reporting, mapping and follow up. This GN duo had the most reports submitted: some 350 or so. It was for the person who filed the most invasive species reports. In this case it was a team effort. Both Gerry and John searched, found, flagged, and reported to EDD.
Gerry and John describe below their work on finding and reporting the invasive Eurasian buckthorn in the Medicine Hat area.
‘Team recognition is always appreciated. Looking back, we began in 2019 with a community concern and interest to know more about invasive species and their control. In short, do something about it. Under the guidance of AISC and Kelly Cooley, Southern Alberta Weed Coordinator, we formed a local working group that included the MH Interpretive Program, Grasslands Naturalists, City of Medicine Hat Parks and Recreation, SEAWA, Medicine Hat College, Medicine Hat News, and CHAT TV. We put on an invasive species awareness and education workshop for property owners (homes and businesses). Received a good turnout … build it and they will come! We had fun learning and participating. COVID 19 did put a damper on further progress in 2020, however, during 2019 and 2020 we worked with Dave Genio, Manager of Parks, and his staff to begin a process of searching and reporting invasive species using EDDMaps Alberta – a great stewardship tool. We focused on Eurasian buckthorn whose locations and distributions were largely unknown. If we found other invasive aquatic, woodland, and grasslands species we also reported them. Through EDDMaps, this information was received by Kelly Cooley and Nicole Kimmel, Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist with AENV. This information was then forwarded to our City’s weed control staff which included the locations in their follow-up control plans.
It turns out, Buckthorn is a common species in the lower draws of coulees and wooded riparian areas. Distribution ranges from singles, small patches, to infestations. From a distance it looks similar to chokecherry, however, upon further awareness, it is significantly different including its opposite leaves and thorns. This species can have a significant negative impact on the environment, wildlife, and humans. Especially, when it ‘chokes out’ desirable native species and habitats. This year, we plan on putting on a COVID friendly Neighbourhood Invasive Species Identification Workshop. John and I will continue to search and find Eurasian buckthorn in the remaining drainages left to check. We estimate in two years time, this invasive woody species will be fully mapped and most locations known.
Then comes the challenging part for the City to follow up and begin controlling this species using all the tools in the toolbox: mechanical, selective herbicide, and perhaps a new biocide fungus.
Thank you, Delinda Ryerson and Megan Evans, former and present Executive Directors of AISC. Today, Megan and Kelly continue to provide our City with support and advice in controlling the establishment and spread of invasive species. As we know, invasive species are an increasing scenario, and best if we nip it in the bud early.’