South Okanagan-Similkameen invasive trees targets of pilot eradication program

Tackling invasive trees

Multiple invasive trees have been removed from Mariposa Park on the West Bench near Penticton as part of an ongoing pilot project aimed at making room for native species.

On Thursday, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen crews cut down and lifted out four trees, the latest steps in an ongoing attempt to curtail invasive species in the park. To date, more than 60 invasive species trees have been removed.

“This is an important pilot project targeting the removal and treatment of three species of invasive trees that are proliferating in the Okanagan valley,” said Riley Gettens, Electoral Area “F” director, in a press release issued Friday.

“The invasive trees are choking out natural vegetation and ecosystems in the region.”

The RDOS hopes the project will provide several benefits, including "regrowth of natural vegetation, clearing sight lines at intersections, and reducing conflict from overhead utilities."

The project is a partnership between the RDOS, the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Examples of invasive tree species in the region, with descriptions provided by the RDOS, include:

  • Siberian Elm: Fast-growing trees that quickly overtake native vegetation, especially shade-intolerant species, reducing forage for livestock and wildlife
  • Russian Olive: A major problem in the Pacific Northwest, invading riparian woodlands and threatening large, hardy native trees such as cottonwoods; can form dense stands that alter vegetation structure
  • Tree of Heaven: Competes with native vegetation and reportedly produces toxins that prevent the establishment of other species. The root system is aggressive enough to cause damage to sewers and foundations

The invasive species pilot project will be reviewed at its conclusion and RDOS staff will explore its future.

In addition to removal of invasive species, the project objectives include education and re-establishing natural vegetation.

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