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Group to deal with invasive species

Local volunteers sought for new Sea to Sky environmental council

There is a brand new not-for-profit group forming to help control the spread of invasive plants and animals in the Sea to Sky Corridor.

Called the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC), the group works in co-operation with other regional invasive committees in a province-wide effort to minimize the negative impacts caused by the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive species.

What sets the group apart from other so-called "weed committees" across the province is that it includes invasive animals as well as plants. The group's goals for the summer are to gather information on the occurrence of invasives in the Sea to Sky Corridor by working with local residents, groups and governments to identify priority species and to organize control work on those species.

"The Sea to Sky Corridor is in relatively good shape when it comes to invasives compared to some other regions in B.C. For example on Vancouver Island existing invasive plant infestations are estimated to be in the tens of thousands," states an organization news release. "Still, there is urgency in dealing with invasive threats to the corridor: to eliminate invasive species or keep them in check before they become uncontrollable."

The group is actively looking for volunteers throughout the region to be involved as either a director, an advisor or someone who can help document the location of invasive species on the ground. Volunteers will be joining other concerned locals and representatives from founding groups - Stewardship Pemberton, the Whistler Biodiversity Project and the Squamish River Watershed Society - as well as local governments and provincial agencies.

Examples of invasive species threatening this region include Japanese knotweed in Squamish, Yellow Flag Iris in Whistler, diffuse knapweed in Pemberton and Scotch broom and bullfrogs throughout the corridor.

Invasives are species that are not native to the region. They tend to grow rapidly and form monocultures, while outcompeting native species.

Second only to habitat loss, invasive plants and animals have been identified as the most significant threat to biodiversity. Invasive plants can also alter water flow and lead to erosion and less available water, create and increase the fire hazard, contain substances that are toxic to people and animals and reduce crop yield.

The group needs help to identify what and where the priority species are, since they will vary between the Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton regions. Whistler biologist Kristina Swerhun co-ordinates the group and would appreciate hearing from anyone with invasive species information. You can report a sighting online at, by emailing Swerhun at or calling 604-935-7665.

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