Mountain bikers can be stewards too

This is a guest post from Natalia Thiessen, the Education & Outreach Assistant at the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council.

Hit the breaks on invasive plants: Three ways to stop the spread of invasives in our tracks

Sought out by mountain bikers of all ages and skill levels, the Pemberton area offers hundreds of kilometers of trails. Without a doubt, the resources (time, money, energy) spent annually towards the maintenance of these beloved trails are substantial. However, some of the resources spent maintaining and upgrading the trails are lost in the battle against invasive plants. 

Not only do pesky, unwanted invasive plants such as Himalayan Blackberry and Scotch Broom threaten to invade trails and increase the likelihood of erosion, but they also smother native species and drive down biodiversity. 

On the bright side, not all hope is lost, and we all play a key role in our battle against these detrimental invasives. Here are 3 actions you can take when playing outside to stop the spread of invasives in our tracks.

  1. Clean your bike: Not to sound like a broken record, but for more reasons than we can count, a clean bike is a happy bike. No one likes a rusty chain or gunked up drivetrain. Often, leaving your bike covered in mud after a gnarly ride is the ‘root’ of the problem (plant pun not intended) . To kill two birds with one stone, giving your bike a quick rinse off after a ride will also clean off any seeds or plant material from invasive species that could have been kicked up in the mud or dirt, preventing their transport to the next trails you visit. Luckily, there are a few bike wash stations around Pemberton (including at Bike Co) where you can wash off the day.
  • Stay on the trail: Hard work goes into the creation and maintenance of biking trails. Not only does going off-trail increase erosion, but it also tramples native wildlife and potentially picks up invasive plants that are later dropped off during the ride. Seeds and plant material can easily get caught up in bike chains, tires, and spokes (or even clothing) and get a free ride to your next destination. 
  • Take in your surroundings: Notice an unusual plant on the climb up? Take a moment to get a closer look (yes, we give you full permission to catch your breath in the process, too. If your riding buddies ask, just say you’re being a good steward of the environment). A common theme with invasive species is that they often stand out or look unusual in relation to native species. This could be because they are unrelated to the plants that are common in the area, or because they are growing in large, uninterrupted patches, called monocultures. Snap a picture of the plant and use the app iNaturalist to help you identify the plant. If it’s invasive, post your sighting on iNaturalist or report it through the SSISC report page. And if the new plant you spotted happens to be native to the area, well, you’ll have learned something new about the local flora!


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