Submitted by Wendy Rodgers

Do you have a beautiful view of the bay, of islands in the distance, of flocks of geese making their way south? Do you see big sky sunsets and approaching storms? Beware of the mighty phragmites, quietly taking root, timidly emerging greenery, taking hold of a shoreline and spreading like a curtain before your eyes. 

Did I get your attention? 

The Phragmites Program, part of the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association’s many initiatives, is still battling this invasive species. 

Progress this Season

This year the Biosphere’s Phragmites Program concentrated on removing phragmites from the Lake Huron shore in North Bruce Peninsula and Hope Bay, cutting these areas by hand. It has been quite encouraging as the past years of cutting, as well as the recent high water levels, have reduced the phragmites at many sites in these areas. Our Eagle Harbour/Warner Bay community did not find phragmites this year and the Pike Bay community, who removed this year’s growth, reported less compared to cuts in the past. The sites between these communities have also seen a reduction in growth. There are some hot spots, though, in Stokes Bay and Gauley’s Bay and we just couldn’t get to all the patches to cut this year. 

We also controlled phragmites along the roadsides through cooperation with the MNBP and a contractor. Again, patches controlled in the past were smaller and some sites were not found. Upon saying this, there were also new sites observed.

Unfortunately, this year we were not able to remove phragmites from wetlands on the mainland or help out private landowners.

Native vs Invasive

Did you know there are native phragmites that grow in our area? The native phragmites is quite similar to the invasive in many ways. The difference is the native does not take over large areas in a dense monoculture. The native grows scattered, amongst the native vegetation, it provides habitat for wildlife and is part of the natural habitat. It is important to recognize the difference between these phragmites subspecies as we can accidentally obliterate the native variety. It has also been asked whether the two varieties can cross and genetic studies are being done to discover if this occurs in the wild.

Looking to the Future

Once phragmites are established, it is very difficult or impossible to remove them. It is important to keep phragmites at bay as this gives us more hope to eradicate it. We don’t know what environmental conditions we will encounter in the next few years and we need “Boots on the ground!” 

Thank You!

A big thank you to all the volunteers who helped at Hope Bay, Stokes Bay, Gauley’s Bay, the communities who cut and monitor the sites in their area and Paul Flanigan, our volunteer intern, for all their time, energy and interest.