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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Schneider

2023 North Africa Grass Removal

Gilpin Grassland North Africa grass (Ventenata dubia) removal, June 2023.

Our first big project of 2023 started in early June. With help from crews from YRB, the Christina Lake Stewardship Society, the Ministry of Forests, Interfor, and Trails to the Boundary Society we removed 495 kg of North Africa grass (Ventenata dubia) from the Gilpin Grassland east of Grand Forks. When North Africa grass gets into grazing land such as Gilpin, it can reduce forage for livestock and wildlife by up to 80%. The small, wiry annual crowds out native species. The North Africa grass grew particularly well in the areas that were burned during the 2022 fire. Crews worked for hours on hands, knees, and haunches to remove the plant, at times scrambling over steep, rocky slopes to search for new sites. The seeds of North Africa grass have a hooked awn which easily attaches to clothing and animals, making it difficult to maintain the boundaries of known sites.

Unfortunately, North Africa grass is not limited to Gilpin Park but can also be found on highways 33 and 395, as well as on the rail trail through Zamora and the North Fork road. Though manual removal can be effective in smaller sites, research is being conducted to find more efficient methods of eradication. For example, a mulch trial was conducted in Gilpin. Areas of the trial site which were flat, and mulch was applied thickly showed signs of success, while areas with more Gilpin crew learning North Africa grass identification.

undergrowth and larger stones created inconsistencies and cracks in the mulch layer which allowed the grass to grow through.

Sites in the Zamora area have been the subject of research on herbicide control of North Africa grass by the BC Ministry of Agriculture. With the support of the Kootenay and Boundary Farm Advisors Group, the Boundary Invasive Species Society facilitated an in-field workshop for local ranchers and landowners. The workshop was led by Ken Sapsford, Provincial Pesticide Specialist with the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Lisa Jarrett, BC Regional Account Manager for Corteva Agriscience. Attendees had the opportunity to learn North Africa grass identification as well as ask questions and examine the results of the herbicide trial firsthand.

Seeing the impact that North Africa grass has had on the areas where it has invaded made the work to slow its spread well worthwhile. We also discovered a beautiful patch of bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) while searching for new sites and some excellent wild raspberries. BISS will continue to manage this invasive grass in coming years and we look forward to the development of new or adapted tools and technologies to Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) make managing these species more effective.

North Africa grass is an annual grass also known as wire grass for its smooth, narrow stem and almost non-existent blades. A shallow root system supports the plant only long enough to produce seeds that can lay dormant in the soil for up to three years. Two dark nodes and a distinct bend in the stem and awn (the hair at the top of a seed) help North Africa grass to be distinguished from look-alike species.

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