A big Phragmites patch goes down in 4 hours thanks to these volunteers!

On August 11th, a hopeful and determined team took off from Sarge cottage to a large site on Moon Island. Recruits came from as far away as Washington ( guests Bailey and Libby) and Holland Landing (Amber, my colleague from Georgian Bay Forever). They joined  Woods Bayers’ Paul, Heather, and Jackson. When we got to the site –  Rob from Iron City was waiting to help us, and we were shortly joined by Phragbuster veterans Cadi, Urs, Sloan, and Reece!

Aug 11 Phragbusting collage

We took all the Phrag out! The site was quite large and there were a lot of challenging woody bushes to work around – but the weather was decent, the company was good,  and Gregg from Iron City delivered morale boosters in the form of yummy cookies! We also had a bit of excitement when we spotted a green snake and some spiders.

All agreed – an excellent day removing invasive Phragmites from The Massasauga Park under their authorization, and with training and participation from from Georgian Bay  Forever. Thanks to them and also the Friends of The Massasauga Park for supplying some gas for one of the boats.



2017 Woods Bay Phrag Fighters keep at it

4 great news pieces for Woods Bay Phrag Fighters this year, and then, some things to work on for 2018:

  1. The stands we tackled last year were markedly reduced!
  2. On municipal roadsides, the Township of the Archipelago has been treating and testing various control options for Phragmites on the side of roads
  3. The stands in Woods Bay proper – of the 4, 1 completely gone. On the rest..
  4. 3 stands were addressed this year by a small group of volunteers because the stands were much, much reduced from last year. The most challenging involved some of us either waist-high or swimming in the water to get to Phrag and moving in between other marsh plants which were left.  Volunteers included: Cadi, Urs, Sloan, Reece, Myrna and her daughter and grandson,  Heather, and Isabelle’s son.

Thanks to everyone for your years of work. We are winning against this plant in Woods Bay! 

Here are some pictures from some of the great phragbusting action in 2018 in Woods Bay..(Read further down for “What about Massasauga Park?”)

What about Massasauga Park?

I know many of you are concerned about Phragmites stands in The Park, and we helped work on a few that were close to Woods last year. Unfortunately, circumstances this year made it not possible to help in The Park.

New rules, ironically enough under the Invasive Species Act from 2016 (where Phragmites is listed as restricted), seem to have very specific directives for Parks which concerned the superintendent around MNRF permits and disposal. The cuts methods we did, following Georgian Bay Forever training, are approved by the MNRF, but do not include Parks (link).

This, combined with devastation that happened at Oastler Park from a huge storm in early July (more extreme weather events, article link) which took Park resources, made it impossible for me to feel comfortable about organizing volunteers to help out without having this worked through –  and time ran out.  The spirit of The Invasive Species Act is surely not to prevent management – but I understand there has to be caution as these can be spread easily, as well as resources and strategy. There are challenges to get through, but stakeholders are interested for 2018.

2018 – More work can and will be done

In 2018, I’ll be working with the charity I work for – Georgian Bay Forever – and other stakeholders to see if there is an opportunity to help The Park with Phragmites –  or understand their jurisdiction – and/or resolve to start managing Phragmites in those areas for next summer. Katherine Denune from Sans Souci has mapped the Phragmites stands in the Park, so we will be able to know the scope of the problem for ongoing discussions. Stay tuned!

Thanks for all your help this summer!


Georgian Bay holidayers cut Phragmites in Woods Bay

2 teams of Phrag fighters (aka August Holidayers) spent a couple of hours cutting invasive Phragmites on the back of a beloved private island on Woods Bay. Our mission – cut and bag a relatively young stand using wetland ecologist Dr. Janice Gilbert’s suggestions which minimize interference with other native plant life.

Day 1

We prepared for battle with hand held garden shears , wetsuits from the 1980s,  paper yard waste bags, water shoes, and delicious snacks for the weary. There was high morale among the younger troops and some trepidation between the parental units.  Could we do this?  After 2.5 hours we had  cleared about 65% of the stand, had a few laughs,  and greatly increased our confidence that we could complete the mission.

We felt good – we had done something concrete to help the Bay! We were rewarded by our hosts’ amazing gin and tonics dockside where we strategized for day 2.

Cutting Invasive Phragmites

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Cool activists I found while fighting invasive Phragmites

What makes a hero?   The Google internet search definition seems poor –  usually a guy with noble characteristics or a sandwich. Hmm. In my view, heroic men and women take sustained action for the public good, brave criticism, and continually fight to change public apathy on important issues .  In short – activists. In learning about invasive Phragmites, I have been lucky enough to find these 5 people whom I think are heroic:

1. Margaret Atwood

I knew about the great novels  – I didn’t know about her strong social and environmental activism until I started following her Twitter feed. Her tweets have a strong point of view and make for good reading. No surprise that she has 827k followers as of August 4th.

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Eye-opening talk about threatened species like massasauga rattlesnakes

Head Naturalist Kenton Otterbein from Killbear Provincial Park came to demystify the Ontario eastern massasauga rattlesnake and show us an eastern foxsnake and spotted turtle. It turns out that these wonderful creatures are not out to get us –  but are in constant peril due to growing human expansion and roadways into their territories! Families gathered on a beautiful sunny morning on Moon Island for the talk organized by the Friends of The Massasauga Park.

Naturalist Killbear

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3 signs that the threat of invasive Phragmites is getting needed attention

As awareness builds about invasive Phragmites, solutions to control its spread seem more possible!  Here are some recent and and relevant signs of progress in getting attention for the Phragmites fight.

1. Non-native Phragmites was a topic on the July 17th Council Meeting of the Township of the Archipelago

At the meeting, Bob Duncanson, Executive Director of the Georgian Bay Association (GBA) urged municipalities to take action in a number of ways:

Bob Duncanson. Photo from Georgian Bay Association website

Bob Duncanson. Photo from Georgian Bay Association website

  • Identify and map non-native Phragmites stands
  • Implement cleaning procedures for ensuring heavy equipment does not spread Phragmites to other locations
  • Advocate for the faster approval of chemicals that can be used near or in water with the appropriate government policy maker(s)





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How to remove an invasive Phragmites stand?

Removing an invasive Phragmites stand is tricky and must be done with caution in order to avoid actually contributing to the spread of the invasive plant. I spoke to two community phrag experts this week, Nancy Vidler from Lambton Shores  and Kathryn Davis from Honey Harbour about tactics.  Once you have read the options, email me at bywiringup or the GBA about your readiness to be involved in these control tactics. (Updated July 30, 2015)

1. Timing  – early detection, rapid response is the best way to avoid this from becoming a $+100,000 problem (Port Franks) and more like Grand Band (12 small stands and eradicated at around $3000) according to Vidler.  Woods Bay seems to be in good ‘early detection’ shape  (see post on Woods Bay spottings) and can now activate rapid response before it gets more significant like Honey Harbour or Port Franks.

Comparison invasive Phragmites Continue reading

Invasive Phragmites found in and around Woods Bay

We have had our first three sightings of invasive Phragmites in the Woods Bay area. Found on a private island, behind the waste transfer station, and near the end of the Moon (pics below). There are also the odd small stands coming down Healey Lake Road.

Tentatively, we are scheduling a community cut on the Saturday Aug 1 – but I would like to hear more about your ability to participate at bywiringup@gmail.com.

River View Phragmites - going into Woods BayInvasive Phragmites on an island in Woods BayWaste Transfer Station  - Woods Bay Invasive PhragmitesHealey Lake Road Invasive Phragmites


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