Yearly, Big Lakes County controls vegetation along roadsides, right-of-ways and within County hamlets. There are a variety of ways in which this control is achieved; through mowing, brushing, herbicide application and working with the public.
Controlling vegetation within these areas is a responsibility for the County and addresses concerns regarding visibility, unsightliness as well as adherence to the Weed Control Act of Alberta.
The Act aims to protect citizens from the economic, social and environmental impacts of invasive plants. Invasive plants outcompete native vegetation, taking over areas through superior root, shoot and seed production. This can lead to yield losses for our Agricultural Producers, lower water quality in our lakes and rivers, and a loss to our natural landscapes aesthetic.
Under the Act, there are two designations. Prohibited Noxious plants are ones that are in the province in low numbers or not yet recorded. Plants under this designation must be destroyed. This includes the entire plant, down to the seed.
Noxious plants are plants that are established in the Province of Alberta. These plants are designated to be controlled. This means controlling seed and vegetative reproduction.
Big Lakes County utilizes an Integrated Plant Management system. This involves:
- Monitoring– Tracking infestations through the use of GPS and inspections
- Cultural Control– Sanitation, roadside seeding
- Mechanical Control– Mowing and pruning
- Chemical Control– Herbicide Application
Big Lakes County has a yearly Herbicide Application program aimed at reducing chemical usage and providing optimal vegetative control. Herbicides are carefully selected, weighing the potential residual, the chemicals effectiveness on a wide range of vegetation, the potential environmental impacts, and safety for residents.
The chemicals chosen have low residuals, low leaching probability, low incidence of drift off application site and high levels of effectiveness against our target weed species. If you would like to discuss chemical control in-depth, please contact the Agricultural Fieldman.
Big Lakes County has a rotational schedule in which chemical control is applied. For control of brush and thistle, we have split the County into three sectors. Within its rotational year, the entire sector is sprayed. In the following years, these areas are monitored for noxious and prohibited noxious weed occurrence. If found, these plants are controlled through a spot spray application. This helps minimize the amount of chemical being used.
Spray Exemption Program
Big Lakes County has a Spray Exemption Program for those wishing to limit or eliminate chemical control adjacent to their property. Landowners are invited to participate if they would prefer to control the vegetation in the ditches surrounding their land. This control must be completed by July 15th of each year.
Once a landowner has signed their property into the Spray Exemption program, they will be issued “DO NOT SPRAY” signs. These signs must be placed in an area that is and will remain visible.
Agreements are renewed on a yearly basis. The deadline for re-enrollment is May 1st of the following year.
After July 15th, the County will inspect the land to ensure the vegetation has been controlled. If control has not been performed, Big Lakes County has a legal responsibility to ensure control is achieved. We encourage landowners to work with us. If you are a Spray Exemption Program Participant who has not been able to control the vegetation enrolled in the program, call the Agricultural Services Department for assistance.