Project targets invasive species on Swift Current Creek banks

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An eco action project on the banks of the Swift Current Creek running through Swift Current was completed on Sept. 27 in an attempt to slow erosion caused by an invasive weed creating problems.

Utilizing manpower through Stark & Marsh's Go Green Friday initiative, the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards project was completed, with the work specifically targeting one bank of the creek that has been heavily infested with Field Bindweed.

"Field Bindweed is an invasive species in Saskatchewan, and its been threatening the health of the riparian vegetation that's along here," said Karlah Rudolph, a AEGP Agrologist with the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards.

She said that native riparian vegetation along the banks of a creek is an indication of the health of the waterway.

"That indicates that a creek is healthy because riparian vegetation, if it's native, does a good job of keeping the banks intact. It's got extensive root system. Invasive species on the other hand, tend not to have the root systems that are required for bank maintenance."

She explained that volunteers in this eco action event helped removed the Field Bindweed, and they then seeded a selection of native prairie seeds which were donated by Grasslands National Park, and Maple Creek's Ray McDougald who is the chairperson of the Prairie Conservation Action Plan.

A series of erosion control structures, utilizing ecological material, were installed as a natural bio-engineering solution to the erosion issue. The structures will create shelves to trap future erosion and better help establish the native riparian plant vegetation.

The project will also benefit from receiving the last trees to leave the PRFA Shelterbelt Program in Indian Head.

"We just happened to get the very last trees to leave the cold room that have been in cold storage."

"These trees are going to be native vegetation. We've got things like Dogwood and other native willows. Some Manitoba Maple. We've got Chokecherry, Cranberry, Hawthorn.

"So the idea is to create a riparian forest that's there for ecological purposes, to provide habitat and to provide food. A lot of them are berry bearing trees which birds that overwinter here require, that's what they eat during the winter. And it's all native vegetation so it's going to be doing that job of holding this bank intact and helping the erosion process that's happening here."

Rudolph saluted the volunteers helping provide the manpower for this important project.

"It would be absolutely impossible to even tackle a project of this scope without a large number of committed volunteers like what we had here today. So getting a group of people who are excited just to do community action and come together to provide some ecological benefits to the City of Swift Current is huge. It wouldn't happen without that."

Geographic location: Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Grasslands National Park Maple Creek Indian Head

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