Group continues efforts to control invasive Phragmites near Oliphant

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Teams cut and transported 210 tonnes of invasive Phragmites in 15 days this summer as part of a community group project to control the perennial reed that damages coastal wetlands near Oliphant.

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Community group Oliphant Fishing Islands Phragmites funded 10 of the 15 days the Invasive Phragmites Control Center (IPCC) spent cutting down the alien invader with three Truxor machines and transporting the collected biomass to a government dock for disposal.

Group spokesperson Leslie Wood told the South Bruce Peninsula board on Tuesday that the money came from private donations, a grant from the Gray Bruce Community Foundation and the Oliphant Campers Association.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada funded the remaining five days and provided additional staff and volunteers, she said.

Although fewer Phragmites were cut and transported this year compared to 2020, when 361 tonnes were transported to a disposal site, Wood said 30% more area was treated this year.

“So this is a victory, she told the board during a delegation in which she shared a summary of the community group’s work this year and outlined her plans for 2022.

“We had a lot more area cut and that means a lot of the areas that were cut were growing back much more sparsely. So the drowning reduction effort certainly worked. “

Wood said community group volunteers, ages eight and older, also donated more than 1,000 hours of their time from early July to late September to cut Phragmites in shallower water near Oliphant.

“We work in small, shallow areas with hand tools, working around native plants, turtles and native fish. We try to protect the native plants so that when all the phrag is gone, the native plants come back, which allows a healthy ecosystem for all species to exist, ”she said.

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Wood told the council that planning for next year’s Phragmites control project is still in its early stages.

The herbicides, which are to be applied by licensed exterminators, will be used in 2022, along with more cutting and biomass removal, she said.

“For any project, you usually need more than one method. We use the drowning cup because most of the time we have Phragmites in the water. But the drowning cut doesn’t work on earth, ”said Wood.

“The drowning cut works. It slowed down the spread, it makes what grows back very thin, so there’s no doubt that it had a big impact on the phrag that’s there. And cutting to drowning will continue next year, but we are currently working on adding herbicides to this project. “

Coordinated planning for herbicide use is underway by the community group, the IPCC – an experienced contractor licensed to use herbicides – and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which may also apply herbicides.

Public consultation and authorization from the landowner are required.

“Key sites will be chosen where we know the herbicide application is most necessary and most effective,” said Wood.

A tracking application will be necessary for several years for regrowth, she added.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada considers Phragmites to be Ontario’s worst invasive species. The non-native Eurasian plant is invading wetlands, stifling all other life, according to the organization.

“It outshines native wetland plants, leaving frogs and turtles without vital habitat and blocking views and shore access.”


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