The Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association (WBRA) assisted with the formation of the South West Alberta Cooperative Weed Management Area (SWACWMA) in 2009 with support from Environment Canada. Invasive species are a transboundary problem that require cooperative solutions. SWACWMA was formed by neighboring jurisdictions including the municipalities of Cardston County and Pincher Creek, Waterton Lakes National Park, the Blood Tribe, and the Alberta Government to share knowledge, resources and occasionally manpower in the common fight to control invasive plants. WBRA continues to provide support to SWACWMA and has committed to providing a webpage for the group and assisting with communication needs.
Contributed by David Musto, Waterton Lakes National Park
Non-native invasive plants (NNIP) are impacting natural ecosystems and economies worldwide. Time and again, it has been demonstrated that NNIPs are a transboundary problem that require cooperative solutions. The need for a cooperative approach has led to the establishment of Cooperative Weed Management Areas or CWMAs.
What is a CWMA?
A Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) is a partnership of local agencies, individuals, and interest groups that work together in many ways to manage noxious weeds or invasive plants in a defined area. CWMAs are growing in popularity because they:
A Cooperative Weed Management Area in South West Alberta
In 2009, a group of neighbours in the heart of Chinook Country met while their common adversaries slept under a white winter landscape. Their common weedy foes – knapweed, leafy spurge, blueweed and a host of others pose a threat to the lands under the care of the cooperative members lands which all persons in southern Alberta enjoy and benefit from. These are our agricultural lands, rangelands, parks, and for many – ancestral lands.
Since then, members have continued to work towards formalizing the South West Alberta Cooperative Weed Management Area (SWACWMA). Signatories to the cooperative are Cardston County, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek, Blood Tribe Land Management, Waterton Lakes National Park, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and Alberta Parks. Support for the initiative has also come from the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association, Glacier National Park, Castle Crown Wilderness Coalition and local ranchers and other landowners.
It isn’t a new idea – this coming together to share knowledge and resources related to improving the health of the land – but this initiative is attracting some new faces as well as strengthening existing relationships and affirming a commitment to make a positive difference. All partners understand that the group will be adaptable and evolve as need and resources allow. Within this cooperative the neighbours will continue to share knowledge, resources and occasionally manpower, thereby being better prepared to deal with their weed control.
Numerous cooperative weed pulls have occurred over the past few years – there is strength in numbers. As all in the business know it is a daunting task and much can be learned through working together. The SWACWMA members encourage cooperative relationships and active participation by other organizations and individuals. Building and strengthening local partnerships with neighbours is a vital step to achieving our common goals.
Annually there are a number of community weed pull events planned around southwestern Alberta. These events are a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors, while helping keep our landscape free of noxious weeds.
Check back in the Spring/Summer of 2017 for event updates !
SWAT Team (Southern Weed Attack Technicians). The weed team for Alberta Parks South Region.
Coordinating the weed program for the Alberta Parks South Region. This guy means business !
Utilizing the Bobcat boom sprayer to control a large patch of Creeping Thistle, St. Mary's Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area.
Volunteers help to collect native plant seed that will be used in restoring damaged habitat
Spot application of herbicide along the roads and the Kootenay Brown Trail
Larinus minutus - a weevil released to help reduce seed production of spotted knapweed
Weeds know no boundaries. South West Alberta Cooperative Weed Management Area Workshop Waterton Park, September 2009. Friends from the U.S.A. help SWACWMA plan their cooperative weed management area.
Weed control continues rain or shine - crews from all the partner staff pulling Spotted Knapweed - August 2009
SWACWMA crew tackling several invasive weeds on the Belly River - July 2010
Founders of SWACWMA - Feb 6, 2009 at the (old) MD of PC Admin Building - Council Chambers