Gateway Gazette

Parks Canada is Looking for Extra Volunteers for the Knapweed Rodeo in Waterton Lakes National Park

Don your cowboy hat (or a sun hat) and join a fun, family-friendly event to make a big difference protecting Waterton Lakes National Park from invasive plants. Parks Canada needs even more volunteers than ever for this year’s Knapweed Rodeo on Saturday, August 10th. Free entry and a free BBQ-style lunch are planned as our thank you to participants who register by the end of Wednesday, August 7th

Ecological renewal in Waterton Lakes National Park began immediately after the Kenow Wildfire, with grasses, shrubs, wildflowers and small seedling trees growing back at most lower elevations. However, the wildfire created a natural disturbance on the landscape in which invasive plants, such as spotted knapweed, can also thrive.

Starting at 9 a.m. on, August 10th, the Knapweed Rodeo is the perfect opportunity for families and individuals who want to dig in and contribute to the protection of the park. The event embodies the western spirit, as volunteers pitch in with Parks Canada staff to head-off a stampede of literally millions of invasive, non-native seeds. Pulling a single plant can prevent the spread of 250,000 seeds. Prize draws and friendly competitions keep the event moving throughout the day, which ends just before 4 p.m. with the awarding of the coveted “Heavy Hitter” award to the team or individual that pulls the most knapweed.    

Parks Canada is continually looking for fun, innovative ways to engage Canadians in their natural and cultural heritage. As the country’s largest tourism provider, we are committed to providing visitors with high-quality and meaningful experiences at our places. In 2018, volunteers and staff removed a whopping 38 large bags of spotted knapweed from what is locally known as Salamander Hill, across from Linnet Lake. This front country activity helps reduce the spread of invasive species like knapweed into the more difficult to access backcountry and follows a national strategy that seeks to safeguard Canada’s native biodiversity through rapid response to new areas of incursion and the containment, eradication and control of established invasive species.

We are encouraging volunteers to sign up for this great event. Visitors who miss the event can also help by cleaning their gear and boots of any seeds, mud or plant material before and after visiting the park and at the Play, Clean, Go boot brushing stands at trailheads.

More information on the event is available here: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/activ/benevolat-volunteer/programme-program#knapweedrodeo

More information on the Play, Clean, Go program is available here: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/nature/conservation/nettoyer-clean

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