British Columbia

Seeding begins in region scorched by B.C. wildfire

The Thompson Nicola Regional District has started a three-year, $990,000 seeding project, funded by the Red Cross, which will prevent invasive plants from spreading, and in turn, foster regrowth of natural forests.

Aerial seeding will prevent weeds from moving in, foster regrowth of natural forests

The Elephant Hill wildfire destroyed parts of Pressy Lake's surrounding landscape. (Submitted)

Nearly two years have passed since the Elephant Hill wildfire devastated 200,000 hectares in B.C.'s Interior. With scorched land comes regrowth, and that includes the growth of weeds.

The Thompson Nicola Regional District has started a three-year, $990,000 seeding project, funded by the Red Cross, that will prevent invasive plants from spreading, and in turn, foster regrowth of natural forests in areas that were burned most severely by the Elephant Hill wildfire.

Invasive plants, or weeds, can be a problem not only for the environment, but also for structures such as homes and driveways, according to the Thompson Nicola Invasive Plant Committee.

Three mixes of predominantly wheat grass seeds will be dropped on the area, because those kinds of grasses grow well in the dry conditions that region faces, said Mike Dedels, invasive plant management coordinator for the Thompson Nicola Regional District.

Halts weed growth

Dedels said the grass will halt the spread of weeds. "If you get some seed in there and get things growing to compete with the weeds that helps to prevent the weeds from moving in," he said.

Dedels said because so much time has passed since the Elephant Hill fire, viable spaces for seeds to germinate are starting to disappear as soil settles, which means crews have to move quickly to get seed down before the natural seed beds seal completely.

"I would have liked to [have] done this at least a month ago so we could take advantage of those spring rains," he told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.

"But we generally do get rains in May and June through Kamloops so we will be hoping for some of that moisture after we get the seed on the ground."

A helicopter will fly above 1,000 hectares of privately owned land this month spreading seeds over some of the most heavily burned areas. In addition, landowners will go out and seed the areas by hand in following days.

Aerial seeding is set to take place during the month of May in some of the areas most heavily impacted by 2017's Elephant Hill wildfire. (Submitted)

Dedels will go out into the seeded area periodically through the summer and fall to determine whether or not the seed takes.

"It'll be an ongoing monitoring program," he said.

If the seed doesn't take, he said the soil will seal up and weeds will start to pop up, and it would become the landowners' responsibility to remove them.

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