Feathery invasive losing battle at South Surrey’s Serpentine Fen

Feathery invasive losing battle at South Surrey’s Serpentine Fen

Eradication efforts leading to ‘dramatic’ reduction in South American intruder

Four years after it launched, an effort to eradicate an invasive aquarium plant from South Surrey’s Serpentine Fen “seems to be working,” according to the area’s caretakers.

“We’ve seen a decline in the total area” affected by parrot’s feather, Ducks Unlimited Canada conservation programs specialist Matt Christensen said this week.

Parrot’s feather (myriophyllum aquaticum) is a dense plant with feather-like foliage. Native to South America, it was found in the Serpentine Wildlife Management Area – located between Highway 99, King George Boulevard and the Serpentine River – in 2014. It’s believed it was introduced into the fen through someone dumping the contents of an aquarium.

By the time it was discovered, it had already invaded to the point that “a big dense green mat” covered the fen’s east marsh, Christensen told Peace Arch News. And without sunlight getting through, the wetland was basically suffocating, threatening the habitat and rich foraging grounds that millions of waterfowl depend on to refuel during migration.

Given it spreads “easier than blackberry,” simply pulling the plants out was not an option.

So that first summer, DUC – which is responsible for managing the South Surrey WMA – initiated a plan to reclaim the marsh by taking advantage of drought conditions to conduct a “drawdown” of the wetland. The hope was that the draining would render the marsh unfriendly to the aggressive intruder.

READ MORE: Feather’s touch at Serpentine lamented

In the years since, a pump that had been used to help maintain the water levels has simply not been turned on, Christensen said, creating the same “drawdown” effect.

Christensen acknowledged the results, to anyone not in the loop, may leave the impression that the fen has “silted up,” as one PAN reader noted earlier this month, in an email expressing concern the WMA is “returning to a field.”

“It might not look as healthy because it’s not as wet,” Christensen said.

However, the “drawdowns” have actually benefited native plants such as smartweed (Polygonum punctatum), a peppery edible which Christensen described as “a waterfowl super-food.”

It “has started to regenerate…due to the change in conditions,” he said.

PAN first reported on the presence of parrot’s feather at the Serpentine Fen three years ago, when Ducks Unlimited Canada officials shared details of its impact during a public event to unveil signage for the Wildlife Management Area’s 30th anniversary.

At that time, officials predicted a need for “something more dramatic” than draining the wetland. However, patience with the process appears to have paid off.

Wednesday, DUC conservation specialist Megan Winand told PAN she has noticed a dramatic reduction in the presence of the invasive in the past year. A survey in 2017 showed it was an extensive problem across the east marsh, but this year, “we had a hard time to find it,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean they can let their guards down, she said.

“Even if you think you’ve eradicated (it), you still need to be out there looking for it,” Winand said, noting ongoing monitoring will continue.

“You’re never really done with invasives.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Conservation specialists Matt Christensen and Megan Winand talk about efforts to eradicate parrot’s feather from the Serpentine Fen, during a visit to the South Surrey site Nov. 28. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Conservation specialists Matt Christensen and Megan Winand talk about efforts to eradicate parrot’s feather from the Serpentine Fen, during a visit to the South Surrey site Nov. 28. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Parrot’s feather.

Parrot’s feather.

Just Posted

Ben “Santa” Cohen visits Ecole Martha Currie in Cloverdale Dec. 4. Santa wished everyone a socially-distanced Merry Christmas out in front of the school. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Santa visits Ecole Martha Currie in Cloverdale

First gig of the season for Ben ‘Santa’ Cohen; COVID driving most gigs online

Shawn Canil, a Cloverdale-area resident, turns heads with the truck he’s decorated for Christmas. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Truck’s Christmas decorations lift spirits on Cloverdale man’s commute

‘When I see them smiling, I know it’s worth it,’ pickup driver Shawn Canil says

Gurbaz Singh, deli manager at the Cloverdale Country Market, arranges some gifts in the back of a vintage car. The car is part of the Cloverdale Country Market’s “December to Remember” picture taking area. The market is encouraging people to come down, snap some Christmas pics and share them on social media. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
PHOTOS: Cloverdale Country Market creates Christmas picture space

Market cancels annual Christmas Craft Fair, replaces it with Christmas picture zone

At least one person received life-threatening injuries when a car collided with a semi truck in South Surrey on Friday morning. (Brenda Anderson photo)
VIDEO: South Surrey crash sends one to hospital in critical condition

Road closures in effect after collison between car and semi-truck

South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce to host virtual COVID-19 town hall

Online event to include local politicians and representatives from Fraser Health, WorkSafe BC

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

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

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)
Chilliwack mother upset about son’s alleged suicide attempt after hospital discharge

Rhonda Clough said 34-year-old son suffering with bipolar disorder should have been kept in hospital

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

Most Read