The Kenow Wildfire has created a natural disturbance on the landscape of Waterton Lakes National Park.

Under normal conditions, a variety of native plants will take advantage of these prime growing conditions and the forest and grasslands will regenerate. Invasive species also thrive in disturbed environments, as these species have few competitors and/or natural predators to limit their spread.

Ecosystems similar to those in Waterton Lakes National Park have experienced shifts from native forests to non-native plant communities following wildfires. This could result in less biodiversity and different habitat conditions that are less favourable for wildlife and humans.

What are some of the non-native plants of concern in Waterton Lakes National Park?

  • Common burdock (Arctium minus)
  • Downy brome (Bromus tectorum)
  • Wild caraway (Carum carvi)
  • Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis)
  • Creeping bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)
  • Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)
  • Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
  • Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
  • Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
  • Yellow chamomile (Cota tinctoria)
  • Hound's-tongue (Cynoglossum officinale)
  • Blueweed (Echium vulgare)
  • Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula)
  • Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica)
  • Dame's rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
  • St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

What is Parks Canada doing to protect natural ecosystems from invasive plant species in Waterton Lakes National Park?

Waterton Lakes National Park has a well-established, extensive, and innovative management program for invasive non-native plants. The program is poised to respond to new disturbances of invasive non-native plants the park. Our program is based on three key objectives:

Prevention: Only using clean, weed-free equipment for work in the park. Ensure the weed-free status of soil and hay brought in from outside the Park.

Early Detection: Surveillance is conducted throughout the park for invasive non-native species. Any non-native species that threaten the ecological integrity of the park are removed or suppressed through a variety of methods: mechanical controls, herbicide application, and biological controls. Preventing re-establishment of invasive species in controlled areas is achieved by planting competitive native species.

Long-term management: There is a long-term plan for containing or eliminating the presence of the most highly invasive species found in the Park. For example, the focus for spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe) infestations is to contain its ability to spread from highly infested areas and eliminating it in newly established sites. The bulk of the park’s resources are committed to suppressing this species due to its ability to spread rapidly, and replace native vegetation through crowding and producing a chemical that can prevent other plants from growing near it (allelopathy). While significant infestations of knapweed have been present in the park since the 1970s, roadside infestations have been suppressed in most areas.

What you can do to help protect Waterton Lakes National Park from invasive plants

Clean your equipment
Check your gear and footwear for any seeds, mud or plant material before and after coming to the park.
Brush your boots
Use boot brushes, or boot-brushing stations to remove plant material after using hiking trails.
Stay on the trail
To limit the spread of seeds and trampling of native plants.
Buy local
Use only local firewood, gardening materials, and certified weed-free hay in the park.

More information

Visit the PlayCleanGo website for more information about this program.