Campers, fieldworkers, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts are being cautioned to clean their gear and not transport invasive species.
“British Columbians love outdoor recreation, but we can unknowingly spread invasive species in our tracks,” says Gail Wallin, Executive Director of the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC). “We are encouraging people to Play, Clean, Go – to ensure their gear is clean to avoid letting seeds or small insects or animals hitch a ride on clothing, equipment, pets and vehicles. It is also important to only use and burn local firewood to avoid transporting pests in wood as you move from one location to another. Together we can all take actions to prevent the spread of harmful invasive species.”
The cost of invasive species to Canada is between $16.6 billion and $34.5 billion per year. Invasive species cause increased maintenance costs to public parks and private property, devaluing real estate.
Invasive species impact outdoor recreation by affecting human health and forcing park and trail closures. For example, Eurasian milfoil can clog a lake so it is not safe for swimming, and Puncturevine, found in the Okanagan, has spines that can pierce shoes and bike tires.
To help British Columbians prevent transporting invasive species during outdoor recreation, ISCBC has partnered with PlayCleanGo, an education and outreach campaign for outdoor recreationalists. PlayCleanGo encourages outdoor recreation while protecting our valuable natural resources, to slow or stop the spread of invasive species by fostering actions that close off recreational pathways of spread for invasive species.
ISCBC is encouraging people to take five say steps to help prevent the spread of invasive species:
1. Arrive with clean gear: Before leaving home, take time to inspect and remove dirt, plants, and bugs from clothing, boots, gear, pets and vehicles.
2. Stay on designated trails: Keep to set trails when walking, hiking, running, biking or riding your horse or ATV to avoid tracking invasive plants that may be along roadside or in the fields.
3. Burn local firewood: Buy it Where you Burn It reminds campers to not move firewood, because pests that attack trees can hide in firewood that you bring home.
4. Use weed-free or certified hay: When horseback riding, use weed-free or certified hay (or straw when alternatives are not available), because weed seeds in infested hay can be blown offsite as you move down the road or left behind in animal waste.
5. Leave clean: Before leaving your campsite or activity, inspect your belongings, tent and vehicles, and remove any dirt, seeds, plants or bugs that may have clung to you, your pets, or equipment.
About the Invasive Species Council of BC:
The Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) is working to minimize the negative ecological, social and economic impacts caused by the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive species for more than 10 years.
Their goals are to: educate the public and professionals about invasive species and their risks to ecosystems and economies through activities such as workshops, seminars and newsletters; coordinate research relating to invasive species and make this available to the public; and undertake and support actions that improve the health of BC’s natural ecosystems.
For more information or to find your local invasive species committee visit www.bcinvasives.ca.