Parrot’s Feather choking Somenos Creek

“It was like trying to paddle over a land mass. It was holding the water back and spreading it out like a beaver dam.”

If you live somewhere long enough, things will often catch your eye when they seem off.

Such was the case this summer for Craig Meredith, who lives on the shores of Somenos Lake. His keen eye detected something was up in the lake this summer — particularly the water level.

“I’d noticed during the summer that despite the fact we were having a drought, the lake was not going down to its summer lows,” Meredith explained.

Consultation with the gentleman who does regular water level measurements near the Lakes Road Bridge revealed the water had actually receded there, however.

Something must have been blocking the lake’s outflow.

“It got me thinking, there must be another beaver dam between the Lakes Road Bridge and the lake,” Meredith said.

Growing increasingly curious, he decided to try and solve the mystery.

“I was trying to connect the dots so I went out in my kayak and I went down the creek and I found this weed and it was like a beaver dam. It was very dense,” he said. So dense, in fact, he couldn’t paddle his way through it.

The weeds were about 150 metres south of the lake near the north boundary of the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve.

“It was like trying to paddle over a land mass. It was holding the water back and spreading it out like a beaver dam,” Meredith explained.

Still not knowing what type of plant he was looking at, Meredith secured a sample.

“I sent it off and I was advised it was Parrot’s weed,” he said.

Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) originated in South America and was introduced in North America as an aquatic plant for gardens and aquariums, according to the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia.

“It’s quite a significant issue,” Meredith said.

The invasive species hadn’t been found in the creek before.

“Somebody probably dumped their aquarium in there,” he added.

The invasive species can also be transported on the bottoms of boats.

Mucking up the ebb and flow of the lake, interfering with fish habitats, providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and outcompeting and replacing native plants, Meredith figures the weed should be removed.

But it’s not that easy.

Meredith said it would likely take a combination of groups and jurisdictions to deal with the problem.

He’s notified fisheries and the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society but he figures at some point the municipality of North Cowichan would play a role as well.

“Whether or not any action is going to be taken, I can’t tell you,” Meredith said.

Those words were echoed by Shaun Chadburn, an engineering technologist at North Cowichan.

“At this point I don’t know if there’s any plans to do anything,” he said. “I don’t think we have any plans at this point in time that I know of.”

Environmental consultants notified the municipality of the invasive weed last year.

“From what I know it’s all the way into Somenos Creek as well,” Chadburn said. “There’s a few spots in and around the marsh and I’m guessing it’s also up Richard’s Creek a little ways, too.”

Chadburn said it’s a difficult plant to treat.

“With aquatic plants, there’s limited things you can do with them other than dig them out but, from what I understand, Parrot’s Feather doesn’t really respond well to mechanical methods,” he said.

Trying to scoop it out with an excavator is temporary he said. It would get rid of it in the short term but eventually it would return and spread even further.

“I know some of the municipalities in Vancouver have been dealing with it in a lot of their drainage ditches and it slows water down and it’s quite a problem plant.”

Because the land isn’t owned by North Cowichan, they wouldn’t likely be the ones to tackle the issue, anyway.

“Somenos Marsh, for the most part, isn’t North Cowichan’s land,” Chadburn explained. “We don’t complete invasive plant treatments on other people’s lands. If we start helping one landowner then other people are going to want us to treat their invasive plants, too.”

That would open up a huge can of worms.

“There’s plenty of [invasive weed] sites around the Cowichan Valley,” he said.

Meredith has sent the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society a letter explaining his concerns and the group had reached out to him saying the topic would hopefully come up at an upcoming meeting.

Society president Paul Fletcher spoke about the issue with North Cowichan council on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

“We are doing a survey of Somenos Creek in partnership with Cowichan Tribes to try and tackle the Parrot Feather infestation and find out if there are more beaver dams on the Cowichan Tribes’ portion of the property and trying to find a way so we can open up the creek a little bit better so it flows better and try and deal with this Parrot Feather,” he said.

“Parrot Feather is now growing very voraciously and has the ability to block water channels. Somenos Creek is infested near the mouth of Somenos Lake now and it could impede the passage of fish as well. When you chop up the plants it goes downstream and it can reconfigure itself,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher also said the society is going after a grant for a two- to three-year invasive species inventory and action plan for the Somenos conservation area.

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Blue Moon Marquee from Duncan will be featured at the 2021 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 28. (Submitted)
Blue Moon Marquee to play Vancouver Jazz Festival

What’s coming up in the A&E scene

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Most Read