Another 20 hectares of grassland and forest treated on Tobacco Plains Indian Reserve
Keefer Ecological Services Ltd. and Tobacco Plains Indian Band are working together to restore grassland and open forest habitat. The area is home to several federal at-risk species, including Spalding’s Campion, American Badger, Lewis’s Woodpecker, and Long-billed Curlew. It provides important grazing habitat for Mule Deer and Rocky Mountain Elk. Restoring grassland and open forest habitat to help these species is a priority for the FWCP.
Invasive plants pose a significant challenge to restoration activities. For example, Sulphur Cinquefoil is widespread throughout the reserve, dominating over 700 hectares of grassland. It’s also found in open forests, past burns, logged areas, and along roadsides. Goat grazing — an alternative to herbicides— is being used, and in 2018, a further 18 hectares of land was successfully treated by goats.
Given the large infestations of spotted knapweed that act as seed sources, management efforts are focused on controlling its spread rather than eradicating it from the reserve. Other plants being treated or monitored include Leafy Spurge, Orange Hawkweed, Canada Thistle, Yellow Toadflax, Scentless Chamomile, and Field Bindweed.
Forest encroachment is another factor that threatens open grassland habitat. In 2018, an ecomulcher was used, in addition to manual thinning, to manage forest encroachment on about two hectares within Tobacco Plains Indian Reserve. The project was funded through the Upper Kootenay Ecosystem Enhancement Plan — a partnership between the Columbia Basin Trust and FWCP.