Armed with clippers and heavy gloves, a group of six tackled the overgrown blackberry bushes that have invaded the banks of Betrand Creek in Aldergrove, hacking a path to the stream.
The Saturday, May 15 event was an effort of the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society which drew volunteers Andrew Sigalet, Tiffany Hof, Michelle Duffels, Angela Wonitowy and Jessica Horst, along with organizer Lisa Dreves, Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS ) stewardship coordinator.
Originally, Dreves said, the plan was just to pull some ivy out near the pedestrian bridge in the 27200 block of 26B Avenue, but at the request of some Township staff, they cut a trail to get at some trash that had been tossed into the waterway.
Getting there required chopping a path through the thorny blackberry bushes.
“They are nasty,” Dreves remarked.
“A few people left bleeding.”
After several hours of hard work , the volunteers emerged in triumph.
“We found a basketball, two lawn chairs and an old ottoman,” Horst said.
“And there’s a filing cabinet, Wonitowy added, “but we couldn’t get it out.”
Dreves said there will be another round to get at the berry bushes.
“We’re only cutting, not digging,” she explained to the Langley Advance Times, and getting rid of the invasive plants will require some literal spadework.
May is Invasive Species Month in B.C., a bid to raise awareness of invasive species and encourage the public to take action.
It’s led by the Invasive Species Council of B.C. which warns BC’s environment, economy and society, including human health, is threatened.
Himalayan blackberries, like the kind targeted on Saturday, should not to be confused with the two blackberry species which are native to Canada, the trailing blackberry and the salmon berry.
Introduced to Canada in the mid 1880s, the Himalayan blackberry was valued for its fruit, larger and sweeter than other varieties, but it soon escaped into the wild, where it quickly got out of control, with birds and other animals eating the fruit and spreading the seeds.
It currently grows in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, central to southern Vancouver Island, Queen Charlotte Islands, the Okanagan, and the West Kootenay areas, where it can displace native varieties and can create erosion and flood risks by overthrowing deep-rooted plants.
Bertrand Creek flows south through Aldergrove, and is a cross-border tributary of the Nooksack River.
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