Woman on crusade to save Duncan’s Centennial Park pond from invaders

She began noticing this spring just how clogged the small pond has become with invasive species

Alison Ibbotson has been on a personal crusade to clear invasive species from in and around the small pond at the rear of Centennial Park park since March.

Ibbotson, a regular user of the park, said she began noticing this spring just how clogged the small pond has become in recent years with a variety of invasive species; including blackberry bushes, morning glory, Canada thistle and reed canary grass.

“It really got my goat,” she said.

“I’m a gardener and I found it embarrassing that a pond in a public park would be totally taken over by invasive species. Someone had to take a stand so I began work to get rid of them. The reed canary grass alone would take over the whole pond in no time if no one did anything.”

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Ibbotson said a culvert in the small pond, which is an outflow from the pond to Somenos Marsh, was rebuilt a couple of years ago, but it was dropped a foot which caused the water level in the pond to go down a foot as well.

That meant a significant amount of land along the banks of the pond was exposed, leaving it ripe to be taken over by invasive species which have since been thriving there.

Ibbotson said she has constructed a small wooden weir to partially block the culvert in an effort to raise the water level in the pond, but someone keeps removing it and throwing it into the surrounding bushes.

“A biological restoration expert has visited the pond and he recommended that the water levels be raised to drown the reed canary grass, and to plant some trees to provide shade because canary grass doesn’t do well in shade,” she said.

“I’ve applied for a $2,500 grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund so I can buy native plants to restore the banks of the pond, and I’ve received a letter of support from the City of Duncan as part of that application. I expect to get an answer to my application in June.”

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Ibbotson has already spent many hours pulling out invasive plants from the area on her own time and initiative, but there’s a lot more work to be done.

Emmet McCusker, the City of Duncan’s director of public works and development services, said the city lowered the level of the pond to alleviate issues that neighbouring residents were having with the high water table in the area.

He said the high groundwater level was resulting in some residents having water in the crawlspaces under their houses.

“We are supportive of any efforts to remove invasive species, and there is usually more than one way to accomplish this goal,” McCusker said.

“We have some ideas that could contribute to the invasive species solution, and will continue to work with Alison Ibbotson to accomplish the goal of reducing these species in the pond and waterway.”

As for the weir, McCusker said he thinks there is the possibility of raising the weir in the summer months when the surrounding water table is quite a bit lower, and then lowering the weir in the winter.

“But we haven’t yet discussed all of the implications of that on either the groundwater level or the invasive species growth,” he said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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