BC Offices in The Community

ISL Engineering and Land Services has three offices on the West Coast, in Burnaby, Langley and Squamish. Every year, our wonderful team members volunteer in their communities and help clean up trash, mark storm drains and plant trees. This year, our BC offices participated in a different sort of clean up: removing invasive weed species from our parks and lakes.

'Weedbusters' at Burnaby Lake Regional Park

On Sunday, September 14, five ISLers teamed up with Weedbusters, a program based in Burnaby Lake Regional Park designed to provide volunteers with the tools to identify, monitor and assist park staff in controlling invasive weeds. Burnaby Lake Regional Park is an important ecological sanctuary for many types of wildlife, including waterfowl, shorebirds, beaver, muskrat, otters, mink and turtles. Burnaby Lake is known for having one of the largest breeding populations of endangered Western Painted Turtles.

The presence of invasive plants affects the biodiversity of Burnaby Lake by skewing the composition of natural ecosystems. Invasive plants have a detrimental effect on surrounding plant life due to a combination of factors, including rapid growth and maturity, prolific seed production and vigorous vegetative spread. Typically, these invasive plants are non-native and aren’t subject to normal biological controls (disease, insects, climate) that usually keep their growth in check, so they have to be removed manually and continually monitored. For more information, see this handy Weedbusters Volunteer Manual.

English Ivy

The purpose of ISL’s volunteering that day was to remove invasive English Ivy from a viewing point located at the edge of Burnaby Lake. Though English Ivy is widely grown in Canada as a houseplant or a ground-cover landscape plant, it poses a serious threat to native forests by eliminating native undergrowth and smothering trees. As it climbs a tree trunk, Ivy encourages rot by depriving bark of contact with air, sun and beneficial insects, as well as inhibiting new growth by covering leaves and interfering with photosynthesis. On average, Ivy can kill a mature tree in just 20 years.

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The ISLers—armed with only gloves, clippers and plastic bags—tackled the infestation of English Ivy. Some roots, up to 3 inches in diameter in some cases, were uncovered. According to our team leader that day, “it became quickly apparent that this was one that would be a great strength workout. Not only did it take a lot of muscle to pull out the vine by the root, but the weeds had to be bagged and carried out to a disposal area. There was also a bonus removal of Himalayan Blackberry bushes and a bottle collection.” Some of the larger roots were too deeply ingrained for hand removal, so the area was marked and larger tools were brought in to finish the job.

Langley Gets to the Root of Invasive Weeds

On Sunday, October 12, the Langley office once again paired up with the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) to clean up their community. Last year, they participated in a tree-planting initiatives in Old York Park, and this year they teamed up to remove invasive weed species from Langley Nature Park.

BC’s Weeds Problem

The threat of invasive weeds is a very real problem in BC, and there is a growing awareness about the need to control non-native species of weeds. For more information about BC’s invasive weeds, visit the LEPS Invasive Species Control website or the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia.

In Langley Nature Park, some of the most concerning species are English Ivy, Lamiastrum, Morning Glory and Scotch Broom. As noted by Kim Greenwood, Special Projects Coordinator for LEPS, “these nasty invasives have been trying hard to take over our natural areas and out-competing native species. These invasive plants do not provide quality habitat for animals. Left unchecked, invasive plants can dominate an entire area, making it an uninhabitable monoculture.


Enthusiastic and Energetic Group

As long-time supporters of LEPS and their environmental initiatives, which included storm-drain marking for a number of years, ISL has created quite a rapport with their staff. Kim Greenwood said, “Please thank all of the volunteers (young and old) from ISL Engineering for donating their time to LEPS yet again! You are an awesome group to work with.” ISL was even featured in the LEPS November newsletter. View the full newsletter here.


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Squamish Cleans the Shoreline

On Wednesday, September 24, 2014, a crew of volunteers from ISL Squamish participated in the 4th annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at the Squamish Estuary Spit and Oceanfront Lands. In just 1.5 hours of cleaning up, 150 volunteers managed to collect approximately 3600 lbs of garbage and recyclables from a 20 km swath of land, filling over 100 bags.

Some of the interesting items collected included a basketball net, a BBQ grill, various car parts such as tires and hubcaps, an arrow and a toaster. Some of the excessive garbage items found were cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles, food wrappers and pop cans.

As a sponsor of this yearly event, team members from ISL also helped out with the post-cleanup appreciation BBQ, serving burgers and hotdogs to hundreds of hard-working volunteers.

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November 20, 2014

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