This past Wednesday I was lucky enough to join the Ottawa RiverKeepers host the CISV Peace Bus to learn about local invasive species and how to deal with them and explore the creek that surrounds Hull Island.
The Peace Bus is filled with passionate teens who are driving across Canada and learning about social issues that communities are experiencing and volunteering to help out. It’s an amazing program that I would have loved when I was their age (hell, I’d do it today in a heartbeat!).
die, Invasive Species!
My group got to walk around with Majella, a local botanist. We learned about his work in cataloging local plant species and how he tracks how much invasive species have spread. Invasive species are those that have been brought over from other countries and there are no local plants or animals that can slow down their spread. Others, like Wild Parsnip, Giant Hogweed and Poison Ivy cause pain and agony to us humans. These plants eventually crowd out native species.
Majella gave us some techniques to help stop their spread. For example, in the photo above, he is showing us a lily that is spreading all down the Ottawa river. He removed the immature flower pods (which float into the water, where, when mature, they’d spread the plant down the waterway), and just threw them on the ground. When the seed is not mature, there is no need to destroy it with fire or other means.
They are also planting thousands of local beneficial plant varieties in order to bring back native diversity, such as milkweed for butterflies as well as others that crowd out unwanted invasive species. I would go walking with this man everywhere! Everyone should have a botanist friend.
Up close & personal with the Creek
We then got into waders and explored the creek, lead by the very knowledgeable Meaghan from the Ottawa RiverKeepers. We found lots of fun things, like a snapping turtle (he was not happy!), crayfish, minnows, and some more invasive plant species. These invasives, called Eurasian Milfoil can easily reproduce if you break off even the smallest piece of them, so we didn’t do any work clearing the patch in the stream here.
Thank you to the Ottawa RiverKeepers and hosts Les Brasseurs du Temps for including me in your adventure, and I can’t wait to learn even more about the river!