Campus Life - Kamloops  

Native Plant Restoration To Restore Living Lab


Sylvia Neufeld cuts a stalk of Dalmation toad flax, which is one of the invasive weeds to have overtaken a disturbed area behind Trades and Technology. The area had been part of a larger area that for years has been a living laboratory and research area.

A small strip of land behind the Trades and Technology building is slowly being returned to its natural state and with that, will again be part of a living laboratory and research area for Science students and faculty.

The project will also become a case study for future studies and restorations classes.

Spearheaded by Natural Resource Sciences faculty member Peggy Broad, the goal is to have native plants once again thriving instead of invasive weeds. Last year the area was disturbed by heavy machinery and as a result, loose and powdery soil was created. This provided perfect conditions for a number of dormant invasive plant seeds to germinate and eventually control 90 per cent of the area. Weeds like Dalmation toad flax, yellow mustard, Russian thistle, kochia, and pepper weed.

The weeds are being pulled by hand in order to limit further soil erosion and the spreading of more seeds. In the fall, the area will be planted with vegetation native to the area and now being grown and conditioned to the four seasons in one of the Horticulture program‘s greenhouses.

It’s the middle of July and fourth-year NRS student Sylvia Neufeld has been hired to clear the area. She’s filled more than 100 garbage bags in the month she’s been on the job and says it could take upwards of 200 more. To decrease the chance of the seeds spreading, the bags are being taken to the landfill where they will be buried.

With most of the weeds in advanced flowering or gone to seed, Neufeld is in a race against time. She needs to clear the land before the seeds drop while also handling the plants with enough care so she doesn’t drop too many seeds.

It’s painstaking work, but she doesn’t seem to mind. The work is practical field experience, is refreshing her knowledge of native and invasive vegetation, and of soil types. Neufeld also like the fact she can see what she’s doing will have visual results.

“It’s exciting for me to be part of this project because we don’t know how it’s going to work out. There are so many unknowns that we may learn the answers to,” says Neufeld. “Yellow mustard releases chemicals and we don’t know the effects of those to the ground.”

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