On August 9, 2022, The Moose Jaw River Watershed Stewards, with the support of Gibson Energy, started their third Annual Purple Loosestrife pull in the hopes of eliminating the invasive species.
Purple Loosestrife is an extremely invasive plant from Europe and Asia that has spread quickly across North America and is now present in nearly every Canadian province. The plant can grow to be anywhere from 60-120 cm tall, although some plants may grow over two meters tall. They bloom pink and purple flowers from May to June. These plants can produce around 2.7 million seeds per growing season, making the likelihood of the invasive species spreading exceedingly high.
This invasive species can alter decomposition rates and timings as well as the nutrient cycles and pore water. Not only that but in areas of dense Purple Loosestrife, it can clog irrigation canals, impede boat travel, degrade farmland, and reduce the forage value of pastures. Which could eventually cause a decrease in the recreational use of our wetlands for hunting, fishing, trapping, bird watching, and nature studies.
As a result of the abundance of seeds, and its extremely diverse soil-changing abilities, Purple Loosestrife is extremely competitive and can out compete important native plant species. This poses a direct threat to many at-risk or endangered plant species.
Around eleven volunteers congregated at the Moose Jaw River at 8 A.M. to start the pull and were out in the sun until noon with the hope of trying to eradicate the invasive species along the river. The first two years of the pull focused on specific sections of the Moose Jaw River, which they hoped would make this year the last big pull of this area. Unfortunately, the job was much bigger than anticipated but a huge dent was made in the population. The process of pulling this invasive species is fairly simple, you dig the plant from the ground, making sure to get all the roots and extra plant; the plant is then bagged allowed time to dry and die, and then they are brought to the landfill.
"While we are pulling them out, we are going to be trying to get as much plant materials and roots that we can and we will be putting them in garbage bags and letting them kind of dry; then we bring them to the landfill. We just do not want it to wash downstream because they can spread through their roots," said Stephanie Huel, Watershed Technician from the Moose Jaw River Watershed Stewards.
The Moose Jaw River Watershed Stewards chose this area to pull from because it was the first densely populated area of Purple Loosestrife they found in our city. It is also very easily accessible with a huge population.
For next year’s pull, they are hoping for more volunteers to show up.
If you want to learn more about this year’s pull you can visit the Moose Jaw River Watershed Stewards website at https://mjriver.ca/projects/purple-loosestrife-pull--year-3.
To learn more about Purple Loosestrife visit https://www.natureconservancy.ca/en/what-we-do/resource-centre/invasive-species/purple-loosestrife.html.