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.”

 

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.

Just Posted

Guatemala mission offers hope, health

Peninsula team to visit remote villages, build a home, in Piedra Blanca

PHOTOS: Surrey teacher’s annual fitness fundraiser raises $23K in six years

‘Zumbathon’ led by Elaine Chong draws 350 people to Fleetwood Park Secondary gym

Police investigating after 14-year-old boy pepper sprayed at Surrey mall

Surrey RCMP say two males fled the scene before officers arrived on scene at Guildford Town Centre

Delta’s first cricket pitch slated for Delview Park

About 200 active players in the city are playing on BC Mainland Cricket League teams in other cities

Champ Surrey wrestler looks to ‘threepeat’ at U SPORTS nationals in Calgary

Cloverdale’s Brad Hildenbrandt named male wrestler of year after Canada West title win

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Avalanche control planned tomorrow on Highway 1

The highway will be closed in the morning east of Revelstoke

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Mayors approve SkyTrain extension to UBC

Next step is a business plan and public consultation

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Police track armed kidnapping across Thompson-Okanagan

RCMP allege it was a targeted crime believed to be linked to the drug trade

Most Read