Left to right: Weed Warrior Frank with Knapweed flowers; Young Weed Warriors attack weeds while on the “Alley Prowl;” A patch of blue burr can leave your trousers — or your dog — looking like this. Photos by Barry Coulter, Weed Warrior Frank and Jessie Paloposki photo

Left to right: Weed Warrior Frank with Knapweed flowers; Young Weed Warriors attack weeds while on the “Alley Prowl;” A patch of blue burr can leave your trousers — or your dog — looking like this. Photos by Barry Coulter, Weed Warrior Frank and Jessie Paloposki photo

Cranbrook’s Weed Warrior Frank is Back!

And he’s issuing a challenge: Can you spot an invasive weed faster than an eight-year-old

Invasive weed season 2018 is upon us. If you get on them now, you can stop Knapweed, Burdock, Blue Bur, Sow Thistle, Oxeye Daisy and other bad weeds from flowering and spreading more seeds throughout the East Kootenay region.

My thanks to the Cranbrook Lions Club for inviting me to join their roadside litter cleanup along Highway 3, past the SPCA turnoff east of Cranbrook, May 16.

The Lions Club senior citizens picked up a total of 42 large, orange garbage bags full of litter along both sides of a three-kilometre stretch of road, during a two-hour work party. In that time, I harvested one garbage bag of Canada Thistle and dug out one bag of knapweed rosettes along 30 metres of highway, one side only near Fraggle Rock, leaving 2,970 metres of road shoulder on the north side, plus three kilometres on the south side where knapweed is still growing.

Seeing weeds coming, and stopping their spread, is much less work than trying to control them after they have built a seed bank throughout the region. EKISC (the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council) knows this full well, as two thirds of their time and budget are spent trying to roll back the spread of knapweed that was allowed to get established, locally, generations ago.

At the other end of the Weed Warrior age range, a special thanks to Jessie Paloposki, Katie Grady, and Serena MacKay from the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council (EKISC). They assisted me during my slide show presentation and weed pulling field trip, involving two classes of Gordon Terrace Elementary School students, on May 17.

Jennifer Doll’s Grade 2 and Lauren Logan’s Grade 3 students were enthusiastic participants during the classroom discussion and slide show on detecting and evaluating a number of weeds — many of which are sliding under the “official radar” and boldly establishing themselves locally.

On the “alley prowl” from Gordon Terrace Elementary to the south side of Parkland Middle School, these eight- and nine-year-old Apprentice Weed Warriors, assisted by their teachers, parent volunteers and the EKISC team, gleefully identified, then assaulted, patches of Dandelion, knapweed, Blue Burr, Oxeye Daisy, Sowthistle, Burdock and Goats Beard, coming away with five garbage bags of weeds for the transfer station, after an hour long epic battle.

My humble apologies to the moms whose kids sacrificed their pant legs to demonstrate why you should not let your puppy walk through a patch of Blue Burr, not even a year later. A pinch of Corn Starch will help you ease burrs from your pet, but good luck with the pant legs, moms.

Yes, adult groups and other schools in the RDEK, this is an official challenge. If you think you can outperform an eight-year-old Weed Warrior, contact Jessie Paloposki at jessie@ekisc.com and arrange a date to demonstrate your skills. For more information on invasive species in the East Kootenay visit www.ekisc.com.

Weed Warrior Frank