Fighting Aliens with SSISC - Yellow Flag Iris

Posted by Mathew Peake on

Saturdays start early at Hammer Coffee and because it is also Firesmart clean up day in our neighbourhood, today started even earlier than normal.

This year a small group of us are fighting aliens!

Our home in Whistler’s most fantastic neighbourhood, 19 Mile Creek (yes, I know I’m totally biased, but this is my article), gets a little community love each Spring. Our annual Firesmart clean up day is normally an excuse for women and men with little or no expertise to get together in the rain to use power tools and sharp cutty things to remove woody bits that could set fire to our collective property. But this year was different. This year a small group of us are fighting aliens!

Coffee orders organised and delivery route, erm… routed, Chrissy set off on her delivery day while I sheepishly made my way to our community park to meet Clare Greenberg, Executive Director of Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC)

With some playful banter, Clare informed us how we, a small group of neighbours, armed with nothing but shovels and good intentions and dressed awkwardly in sweaty fishing waders, were about to go head-to-head against the alien itself, the dreaded Yellow Flag Iris. Clare pointed to the pond and suggested that we get to work.

Yellow Flag Iris is an invasive plant, native to the Mediterranean, the plant thrives in standing water and wetlands. Yellow Flag Iris grows in dense mats that trap sediment, choking natural waterways, reducing habitat for fish and nesting birds.

As I quickly discovered, removing Yellow Flag Iris is back breaking, time consuming work. After a morning of digging, swearing, heaving, followed by more digging our small group had made modest progress removing the rambunctious Rhizome.

Over pizza, later that afternoon, Clare informed me that work days like this are important to do the heavy lifting and remove the bulk of Yellow Flag Iris in our community waterway. With dedication and some ongoing annual maintenance we can work towards becoming free of Yellow Flag Iris.

Learn more about Yellow Flag Iris at


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