Georgian Bay Forever has produced this amazing video showing how our community's partners are helping take revenge on the phragmites:Click here to see the video in Youtube.
2016 report on phragmites:
The word Phragmites (pronounced “frag-my-tees”) is derived from the Greek term phragma, meaning fence or hedge. The photo above shows just that, a fence in places over 3.5 metres high, running along the north side of Highway 26 at the Silver Creek Wetland in Collingwood. Several years ago, cattails would have been found in this area but not to the extent that invasive Phragmitesis found there today. It is unclear exactly how invasive Phragmiteswas transported to North America from its native home in Eurasia, but in 2005, it was identified as Canada’s “worst” invasive plant species by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.
There are two subspecies of Phragmites found in the area the invasive Phragmites australis subspecies australis, and the native species Phragmites australis subspecies americanus. The latter species is rare in our watershed but is found in the Minesing fen, according to David Featherstone of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority,
Phragmites australis subspecies australis, (also known as the European common reed) if left unchecked will cause serious damage to the biodiversity of the area. It out competes native wetland species and creates a monoculture that compromises desirable habitat for wildlife. Phragmitescan impact species at risk such as the Blanding Turtle (Threatened) which can not pass through the dense reeds (up to 200 stems per square metre). Phragmitesalsoreleases toxins from its roots into the surrounding soil, which impedes the growth of and even kills off neighbouring vegitation.
Phragmites thrives in disturbed moist habitats and is often among the first species to colonize a new area. While it prefers areas of standing water it’s stolons (horizontal stems or ground runners) and rhizomes (underground stems) allow it’s fine roots to reach out to find water. Low-water conditions in Georgian Bay have provided a favourable environment for the rapid colonization and spread of Phragmitest. It is increasingly found in protected shoreline areas, beaches and wetlands of the Blue Mountain Watershed. The recent increase in water levels may wash out the edges of established stands and move viable plant material to new locations. Phragmites can tolerate areas of high salinity and is now frequently found in road-side ditches. Run-off of de-icing road salts does not impact its growth.
How does Phragmites Spread
Phragmites primarily spreads to new areas through the dispersal of it’s seed.. The seed head (shown below and over 25 cm long) can contain over 2000 seeds and is spread by the wind and water to other areas
Once a stand of Phragmites is established, it spreads via its rhizomes and stolons. Studies have shown that the lateral spread of rhizomes averages approximately 39.8 cm per year, and stolons can grow up to 10.7 cm in a day.
At a recent meeting organized by Gail Bascombe and Betty Beacon, concerned local residents, who iive in the White’s Bay area of Collingwood, David Featherstone of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority made a presentation on Phragmitesto a group of concerned citizens representing area condominium organizations. He underlined the seriousness of the problem and the need for community action to help to mitigate the adverse impacts of this invasive perennial grass that has caused severe damage to wetlands and beaches in our area for several years now. George Powell of the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation, Colin Dobell of “Stop the Invasion” and David Sweetman of “Georgian Bay Forever” also made presentations that reinforced this concern,
Of interest in this area is the recent work done at Lighthouse Point, a large residential development on the west of Collingwood. Access to the Bay from their beach was seriously impacted by a wall of Phragmitesand the condominium owners, headed by Tim Morris, organized a “Phragmites Pull” and regained access to the beach (see photos below).
From the discussion, the following observations can be drawn:
- Community action is needed as both the Town of Collingwood and the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority have limited resources to combat the spread of Phragmites.
- While several organizations have indicated they are willing to help in controlling Phragmitesand provide oversight, local community involvement is required to provide the impetus and labour needed for control.
- Control activities that seem to be the “best bets” for this area are as follows:
- Seed head removal before before they ripen in mid-August.
- Cutting of the stems of Phragmites as close to the ground as possible. Machine cutting may be required where large stands of Phragmites are found as hand cutting is labour intensive.
- Disposal should involve, bagging, labeling clearly as Phragmites and hauling to a municipal landfill.
- Home composting is not recommended, as compost temperatures may not be high enough to destroy the seeds. The resulting compost could result in further spreading of invasive Phragmites.
- Pesticide regulations do not currently permit the use of herbicides, such as Round-up (which contains glyphosate) close to the waters edge.
- Humans and construction activity can transport seeds, stolons and rhizomes. Inspection and cleaning of vehicles, cutting equipment and foot wear should be carefully carried out, to prevent the spread of Phragmites.
- It may be possible to cut, collect and dry the cut seed heads and reeds and burn them at an approved place on site, but that requires an Open Air Permit from the fire department and notification of the Town when burning is carried out. Note that burning of an established stand early in the growing season can stimulate growth.
For more information on Phragmites please check out the following web sites :
On August 8, 2015, we teamed up with Georgian Bay Forever, Town of Collingwood, Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, and fellow community members to 'fight the phrag' established along the Collingwood waterfront. We held two cutting sessions and were provided lunch. The pic below shows some of the results of our efforts:
This article was written by George Powell a member of the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust Foundation with help from all his family. David Featherstone gave it a final edit.