Island residents urged not to drive through phragmites

Phragmites are shown greening up in a ditch on Highway 540 at Honora

MANITOULIN – With water levels having gone down on Lake Huron, and with the Manitoulin Phragmites Project having spent the past five years getting this invasive reed off local shorelines, the group is urging everyone to do what it can to not spread phragmites, by not driving through it on shorelines, ditches or wetlands.

Judith Jones, with the Manitoulin Phragmites Project, told the Recorder last week, “the reason we are trying to get the message out is that the water has gone down enough that people can, for example, drive their ATVs on the shoreline; they are not supposed to but if they do, we are requesting that they don’t drive through phragmites.” She pointed out, “phragmites are spread by vehicles.”

A poster on the Manitoulin Phragmites Project Facebook page states, “finally, there is a shoreline on Lake Huron again. But phragmites is also there. Please don’t drive through it. The Manitoulin Phragmites Project needs your help to stop the spread of this aggressive invasive grass on our shores and in our wetlands. Pieces of phragmites stick to vehicles, machinery and boats and then fall off and sprout into new patches.”

“Learn to recognize phragmites. Don’t drive through it! And when cleaning off your boat prop, throw all weeds into the boat for disposal on dry land. Join us to save turtle and fish habitat.”

Ms. Jones explained that now is the time of year when new phragmites seeds are up, but old plants are still around. “We are asking people to drive around areas that have phragmites. But if they do, we are asking that, when they get back home, spray the tires and the vehicle with a hose. If someone takes a boat through shallow water and they get weeds in the boat prop, that they throw the weeds in the boat and dispose of them on dry land. Little pieces of phrags will float and stick to props and the bottom of boats.”

“Taking this type of action is how we can prevent phrags from spreading,” stated Ms. Jones. 

Ms. Jones explained that the Manitoulin Phragmites Project has 40 people who are ‘phrag watchers’ all over the Island and if they see any spread they know what to do to get rid of it. However, “we need more phrag watchers,” she said. 

Check out the Manitoulin Phragmites Project on Facebook or contact or (705) 859-1027. “If someone finds phragmites somewhere on the Island they should contact us and we will investigate the area, following all COVID-19 protocols,” Ms. Jones added.