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

Through his lens, Doug Cook captured this picture of the Fraser River, Mount Baker, an eagle, and even the Golden Ears Bridge on a sunny fall afternoon. The photo was taken from the wooden walkway leading down to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport float plane dock. (Contributed photo)
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay to host virtual World Wetland Day event

Webinar event to feature six speakers, to be held Feb. 2

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

One of the Choices Lottery grand prize packages includes a home located at 16730 19 Ave., Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Two South Surrey homes featured in Choices Lottery

Tickets on sale now for BC Children’s Hospital lottery

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read