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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Noons Creek, Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada

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Noons Creek, Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada
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Registered: November 2013
City/Town/Province: Coquitlam, BC
Posts: 1
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Every time I extract a long, tangled piece of ivy, I feel great satisfaction. Often, I revel in it by myself, under the trees on a Saturday morning. But if the skies aren't pouring rain, there should be at least a few other students battling the fierce plants alongside me. If I'm lucky, so is Elaine, an older and wiser invasive warrior working to restore the riparian habitat at Noons Creek Hatchery.

Friends introduced me to this place last fall, when I was yearning for an environmental community organization to devote my time to. Most Saturdays we assisted with water quality testing in the lab, but sometimes we worked outside on the trails. One day, another volunteer identified a plant engulfing the forest floor as Lamium, a common invasive species that I had never heard of. With all of the other hatchery operations, invasive removal could only be addressed sporadically. But looking out on a sea of lost biodiversity, I knew that I needed to find a way to increase volunteer activity. Something had to change, and I felt the drive to make it happen.

Earlier in the year, I found the Nicodemus Wilderness Project Apprenticeship Ecologist Scholarship while searching online for post-secondary funding. The organization exemplified the community stewardship activities I desired and the scholarship highlighted ways other young people improved their local environment. My discovery of Apprentice Ecological projects played a role in propelling me to address the pressing problem of invasive vegetation, an area I understand the Nicodemus Wilderness Project takes very seriously.

In my characteristic style, I checked out a couple books on invasives and got to work on the familiar "action plan." Step One: Scour web pages and utilize paper resources to attain confidence in plant identification and arm myself with the methods needed to eradicate (or at least subdue) the foreign beasts. Step Two: Organize this information into a multi-step plan to mobilize local volunteers for plant pulls and native species replanting. Step Three: Request reviews and advice.

My research produced a three-page plan of attack that is under a constant state of revision as external volunteers and experienced individuals offer their guidance and input into the project. By taking a sincere interest in this issue, I've discovered that there have been others working at it all along. Their passion, dedication, and experience have contributed to the successful development of this project and the increased confidence I have in my newfound area of interest.

The hurdle to meaningful invasive species reduction is not the absence of warriors, but rather the lack of consistent volunteers that contaminated areas see. "A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens" can instigate invasive species removal, but they won't clear the city. As such, it is the goal of my project to draw different people onto the infested trails, whether they are one-time student volunteers or hatchery regulars. Directing more people into this program goes farther than increasing the rate of removal; it expands the network of shareholders who are invested in the local ecosystems that sustain them.

The main event of this fall, captured in the image I included, involved the Environmental Technician from the City of Port Moody, two community leaders in invasive species management, and students from my high school who all came together for a special Pro-D pull I organized. In terms of invasive vegetation removed, the pull was a definite success; tarps full of English Ivy vines, big Himalayan Blackberry root balls, and spiky holly branches were dragged off the trail for pick up by the city. However, the most meaningful result of the event for me was the newfound interest in the outdoors and stewardship that I saw in many of the participants. A boy named Conner, who I had just met the previous week, was constantly asking the community leaders for advice on just how to approach particular plants. As the city supervisor taught him how to mimic animals to get though the brush, I marvelled. Moments before, Conner had admitted that he was one of those guys who just walk past the trails, without ever paying much attention. In just two hours, his mindset had completely changed.

Slowly but surely, volunteers like the Pro-D group are giving the natives back their natural grounds. Students hack down ivy from trees each week, and stick themselves with Himalayan Blackberry thorns as they drag bags of the enemy to the street. Of course, Elaine is out there too, piling up spiky stocks and curtailing new invasive growth. The more that is done, the greater is the desire to push further.

After this year, there will still be thousands of invasives rearing their ugly heads. Invasive species are no quick fix, and the long-term nature of this initiative will be an important factor to consider when I revisit the project and aim to measure its success. If all goes according to the ever-evolving plan, volunteers will be coming out a year from now not just to pull, but also to replant.
Date: December 26, 2013 Views: 7864 File size: 24.7kb, 2819.0kb : 2848 x 4272
Hours Volunteered: 65+
Volunteers: 13
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 14 to 17
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