Establishment and Restoration at Meewasin Valley Authority

Establishment and Restoration at Meewasin Valley Authority

…is the Cree word for beautiful

Created in 1979 by an Act of the Province

Meewasin is a conservation

organization dedicated to conserving

the cultural and natural resources of

the South Saskatchewan River


…the means by which the 3

participating parties have chosen to

manage the Meewasin Valley.

Planning Principles

Valley resources accessible to everyone;

• Recreation and development balanced

with resource conservation;

• Opportunity for diverse activities for a

variety of interests;

• Natural and heritage resources should be


• Public ownership in the decision making.

Meewasin’s Jurisdiction

Meewasin is centred in Saskatoon and runs

approximately 60 km along the river valley from

Pike Lake in the southwest to Clarke’s Crossing in

the northeast.

Conservation Zone

• Including the river,


Conservation Zone

is 25 square miles

Meewasin Mandates

To conserve

To develop

To educate



Meewasin Sheep Grazing Program

Jared & Katie

Meewasin Valley Restoration


Bluegrass, Burning, and


Shrub cover more

than doubled from

7% to 19% over a ten

year period at

Saskatoon Natural


Herbaceous Species

Herbaceous Species

% Actual Cover

% Actual Cover

thread leaved sedge 2.30 western wheatgrass 0.18

beautiful sunflower 1.48 northern wheatgrass 0.14

scarlet gaura 0.98 blue grama 0.13

needle & thread 0.91 false flowered dandelion 0.10

blunt sedge 0.80 sun loving sedge 0.07

prairie muhly 0.70 june grass 0.04

skeleton weed 0.43 Kentucky blue grass 0.03

low goldenrod 0.40 sedge sp. 0.03

blue lettuce 0.30 yarrow 0.03

sand grass 0.30 low sedge 0.01

plains reed grass 0.25 pasture sage 0.00

northern bedstraw 0.23 western porcupine grass 0.00

rough fescue 0.23 Average Herb 10.00

Late fall spraying patch after one

growing season.

Snow guards

*1-2 acres per person hour of effort

Why control buckthorn?

Dr. Vernon Harms stated

“The rapid loss of our

woodlands by European

Buckthorn may

represent a more

serious and imminent

threat to Saskatoon’s

natural areas than do

such media-publicized

possible threats as

Purple Loosestrife or

Dutch Elm Disease”.

Saskatchewan is revising

noxious weed act

• Prohibited weeds that are not established (absent or

rare) in Saskatchewan, but pose significant potential to

establish here and cause negative impacts.

• Noxious, weeds that are present in Saskatchewan in

isolated areas (not widespread), but are predicted to

spread further.

• Nuisance, weeds that are widespread, but move

easily between properties resulting in disputes between


European or common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

has become naturalized in many parts of eastern and

central North America.

Saskatchewan Distribution

Only at Saskatoon and

Estevan were plants

noted as very

numerous. Also noted

in Brandon, MB.

Earliest record for

Saskatoon dated 1923,

prior to formal

shelterbelt trials at

Forestry Farm in


Saskatoon Region Distribution

Buckthorn has spread

along the South

Saskatchewan River


It is now found 56 km

north and 21 km south

from the original site of


How does it spread?

The species is dioecious with male and female flowers

borne on separate plants.

Fruit production is prolific and begins at about 6 years.

How does it spread?

Birds, primarily waxwings,

are the main vector for seed

spread. Their migrations to

the city are irruptive and can

be spectacular with flocks

numbering in the thousands.

They visit in the late winter



Cost estimates based on a wide range of

field and labour conditions.

Labour valued at $30 per hour.

Average labour cost was ~$0.15 per stem.

Chemical cost for Garlon 4 was ~$.01 per


• Treat in the late fall or early winter

– Foliage or berries more visible

– Better seasonal field staff labour pool

– Good production with good working temps & prior

to heavy snow

Avoid moisture on the stems or

temperatures colder than -10 C.

What is Meewasin doing?

Buckthorn was recorded at

239 quarter sections around


Started in 1998 and will have

treated each site 3 times by


600,000 stems treated to date

Projected to be > 1 million by


What is Meewasin doing?

Our experience has shown that for an initial treatment

of a site with 100 seed bearing stems that there will be

an additional 89 stems to treat at that site five years

later. An additional 160 stems can be expected five

years after that.

A “miss” rate of about

20% during the initial

treatment was

recorded. It is prudent

to revisit a treatment

site a year or two later

to catch these misses.

What is Meewasin doing?

After the initial double pass treatment, a return interval

of 5 years appears reasonable.

Casual observation

suggests a 10 year

interval results in

substantial seedling


Where to start?

The best strategy is to

start at sites where the

densities are low and

the plant is not


If the ground layer is

dominated by buckthorn

seedlings then consider

the site entrenched and

be prepared for a long


The Saskatchewan

Invasive Species

Council is applying for

funding to better map

the buckthorn

population at


The city of Saskatoon is

treating buckthorn at

the Forestry Farm where

it was first introduced

and also at the former

site of the Sanitorium


What next?

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