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  • City to install signs warning residents of foxtail grass in off-leash dog park

    The signs are expected to be installed in the spring 

    City to install signs warning residents of foxtail grass in off-leash dog park pic 3
    Ben runs past foxtail weeds at the Chestermere off leash park Oct. 5. Photo by Jeremy Broadfield

    The City of Chestermere parks department is working to install permanent signage warning dog owners of foxtail grass in the off-leash area.

    “We can’t install the signs until the frost is out of the ground. We’ve also made sandwich board signs that are more educational that we will have throughout the off-leash area to identify that there are foxtails in the area and to be aware of it,” said the City of Chestermere Parks Manager, Rick Van Gelder.

    The name “foxtail” is applied to grasses that have bushy spikes that resemble the tail of a fox.

    Foxtail grass is commonly found in open areas, including hiking trails, along roadsides, in natural parks, open fields, and at the top of grass spikes.

    “Foxtails and grass seed awns are designed to do one thing, burrow. This is how the grass spreads as the seed slowly makes its way deeper into the soil and becomes lodged when the barb-like spines set in place. This is why foxtails are a hazard to dogs,” Van Gelder said.

    The City of Chestermere has been reviewing the best options in how to address the foxtail grass in the area.

    “A big constraint that we have is that it cannot be chemically controlled due to the proximity to the lake. At this point, mechanical control seems to be our best option,” Van Gelder said.

    The city plans to monitor the area, and before the foxtail has a seed head, the parks department will cut them down.

    However, there is a portion of the off-leash area that is near the water that the city cannot touch, as mandated by the Alberta environment. 

    “We can’t go in there mechanically, we can’t go in there with chemical, we can’t do anything. In that location, we will post warning signs,” Van Gelder said.

    Mechanically cutting the foxtails, spraying the area, killing the grass, and re-seeding the area is also not an option in managing the foxtails.

     “We would have to close everything off, it would be out of commission for a year, and this grass could blow in and it would be back,” Van Gelder said.

    “We’re going to keep it in check, and mechanically keep it down before it gets to a seed head,” he said.

    The city also plans to do educational measures, in addition to installing permanent warning signs in the spring.

    “We advise that residents keep a close eye on their dogs, to be safe. If they are known to eat weeds, we suggest keeping them on leashes for the time being,” Van Gelder said.