As the Operations and Grants Manager for the Okanagan Basin Water Board, James has become the staff expert on invasive milfoil control and invasive mussel prevention and policy recommendations for the Board. As part of his job, he manages the invasive milfoil removal program in the Okanagan covering five large lakes, and is very familiar with the effects of invasive milfoil in water. As the Grants Manager, James is passionate about supporting work to enhance and restore water quality, and to improve water conservation, as well as enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem function. As part of his role as Grants Manager, he currently sits on the Board of Directors for Environment Funders Canada. Before his work at the Water Board, James served for over 13 years in the Canadian Forces Reserve, earning the Canadian Forces Decoration. He continues to be involved with the Canadian Forces locally by acting as Treasurer for the British Columbia Dragoons Regimental Council Society. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Human Geography from UBC Okanagan in 2012, a Certificate in Local Government Administration from Capilano University in 2015, and his Master of Arts focussed on local government sustainability policy in B.C., from UBC Okanagan in 2018. In his free time, James enjoys camping, hunting, and kayaking with his kids, and teaches them that they are a part of nature and not separate from it.
Title: The forgotten science of aquatic weed management
Since 1970, the Okanagan Basin Water Board has been controlling invasive Eurasian water milfoil in Okanagan Lakes. Current control techniques use mechanical removal of root systems in the winter by rototilling the lake bottom while the plant is dormant in water temperatures below 10 degrees C. In the summer, the top 5 feet of the plants are cut and moved to shore by aquatic harvester as a purely aesthetic control technique for the benefit of beach and water users. Harvested plants are transported to local orchards and gardens for use as compost, rich in aquatic nutrients like Nitrogen and Phosphorus. The Okanagan Milfoil Control Program was originally developed by the B.C. Ministry of Environment through experimenting with physical, biological and chemical means over 17 years. The experiments included the use of aquatic herbicides such as 2, 4-D and Diquat, physical bottom barriers, and the breeding and release of native milfoil weevils. In the United States, many areas use newly developed selective herbicides to control milfoil, while banning the use of mechanical removal. In Canada, the release of deleterious substances into water bodies is tightly regulated and aquatic herbicide use has no social license in the Okanagan. While some of the early experimental milfoil control methods were not feasible, at least one promising technique, ultrasonic irradiation, was never fully developed. This presentation will provide an overview of different aquatic weed control methods, their strengths and limitations, as well as discussing operational aspects of weed management in the Okanagan. It will challenge researchers to explore new opportunities to control a costly and environmentally damaging aquatic weed.