Community Fights Phragmites
Brooke Harrison, Alex DiCintio and Briar Hall have spent the summer fighting an alien invasion of a different kind – Phragmites – also known as the Common Reed.
The trio was hired by the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association (BPBA) to monitor and cut the invasive reeds along the Lake Huron shoreline.
The invasive plant spreads through seeds and roots, so it can’t simply be pulled out.
“When cut properly close to the ground, there could be up to a 60 per cent reduction in the reeds’ area each year,” DiCintio, who is originally from Dorcas Bay, said. Disturbing the roots can actually lead to faster spread, he said.
Harrison, who has a degree in Environmental Science from Trent University, said, “It’s best to cut it down at the end of the season, bag the seed heads and don’t disturb the roots.” She added, “The herbicide used to treat it on land can’t be used in water, so cutting the reed stems two feet underwater helps to drown the roots.”
Pat and Brian Cameron, who cottage at Little Red Bay, helped with the BPBA employees’ efforts on Aug. 30.
“We’re concerned that the spread of Phragmites will threaten the boating access, rare local fen flowers and property values,” Pat Cameron said, adding, “It’s fantastic that the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association has hired Brooke, Alex and Briar to help us learn to get this invasive species under control.”
Since its arrival in the Great Lakes 40 years ago, Phragmites has now become Canada’s worst invasive plant species and is threatening the ecology of the whole Lake Huron shoreline, according to the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation (LHCCC).
The name is derived from the Greek word Phragma, which means fence or hedge and it can grow into dense colonies up to five metres high.
“We’ve been working with friends on the Bay for several years to control the spread of Phragmites by cutting it down,” Brian Cameron said. “The patch keeps growing back but each year it is smaller and weaker and this year there were no flower heads.”
The BPBA has been cutting Phragmites in communities including Sauble Beach, Hope Bay and Howdenvale. Upcoming community cuts are planned for Oliphant, Pike Bay and Johnson’s Harbour. For information contact Amanda Stanger at email@example.com or (647) 885-6998.
A local South Bruce Peninsula Phragmites volunteer group has been started with a Facebook page and email newsletter; for information contact Donna Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pat (second from the left) and Brian Cameron (centre), Little Red Bay cottagers, were joined by Brooke Harrison (left), Alex DiCintio and Briar Hall, Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association employees, for a photograph after the group cut down invasive Phragmites in Little Red Bay, Aug. 30.