Local initiatives Saturday aim to 'stay on top' of phragmites

·3 min read

Anyone who takes pride in North Simcoe's waterways and wetlands might want to consider volunteering for invasive phragmites removal this weekend.

On Saturday at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, a stewardship program to learn how to safely remove invasive plants, including invasive phragmites, will take place throughout the day.

Wye Marsh stewardship and conservation manager Patrick Jackson said that the invasive species was “pretty bad” this year.

“The heart of the marsh is still pretty much untouched by phragmites, but a lot of it is colonizing the edges of the marsh; areas where there is more human disturbance,” Jackson said.

“We have 29 sites where there is phragmites along the edge of the marsh. Most of them are towards Wyebridge, and then we have some towards the wildlife centre itself. The one that we’re going to be cutting this weekend is just off the edge of William Street (in Midland).”

Invasive phragmites (pronounced frag-MY-tees) were recognized in 2005 as this country’s worst invasive plant by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. It is a tall perennial, commonly known as the European common reed, found in wetlands, along roadside ditches and in the shorelines throughout the Great Lakes.

“It is one of the most dangerous invasive plants that we have in Ontario currently,” Jackson warned, who said that one only needs to look to the southern marshes in Ontario to see what entirely covered wetlands look like.

“It’s such a critical species because it forms really dense monocultures – it crowds out all of the other native plants, and destroys the habitat for species at risk like turtles and different amphibians, things like that, and nesting birds.

“I think it’s important for kids, adults, everyone, to get involved and try to prevent our situation from getting dire, because it’s a lot easier to manage it now than to try and restore the environment before it’s been really damaged like that,” Jackson added.

Education will be provided at the Wye Marsh, located at 16160 Highway 12, followed by participants heading into the site to remove the invasive species. Pre-registration is required, and start times are 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m; youth under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Participants are being asked to bring their own spade, rubber gloves and boots, sunscreen, bug spray, hat and water.

Further information on the Wye Marsh event including pre-registration can be found at the Invasive Species Pulls page of the website, or by contacting Heather Keery by phone at 705-526-7809 or email via the website.

Penetanguishene is also hosting an invasive phragmites removal on Saturday at Champlain Wendat Rotary Park, starting at 9 a.m. and at 1 p.m.

Coun. Jill St. Amant stated that the two problem strands have been thinning as a result of efforts over the past three years, although persistence is necessary to keep it under control.

“It is something that you have to stay on top of, but every year it’s getting better,” said St. Amant.

“It is a very labour intensive job. It is very time-consuming; from a cost perspective I think it would be cost-prohibitive for any of the municipalities to try and tackle it on their own without community involvement,” she said, adding she felt blessed to have a number of community volunteers coming out during past removal sessions.

Participants are encouraged to wear long pants and sturdy footwear and dress according to the weather. Snacks and drinks will be provided.

If interested in attending the Penetanguishene removal event, contact St. Amant at 705-529-3652 for further information.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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