Sixth year of Phagmites Project offering COVID-safe training

MANITOULIN – This is the sixth year for Manitoulin Phragmites Project, a volunteer-fueled effort aimed at controlling Canada’s worst invasive plant across all of Manitoulin Island.

“We have had help from more than 100 of volunteers and landowners—team work on Manitoulin is fantastic,” said coordinator Judith Jones. “We still need more help, so we’re doing our annual Phragmites Week.”

Phragmites is always going to be around, explained Ms. Jones, “but we don’t want it to take over out shores, beaches, wetlands. The goal of the project is to reduce phragmites across our landscape to a low level that can be maintained by ordinary people with a little bit of annual maintenance.”

Now is the time to do that little bit of annual maintenance, she said. “It’s also a good time to check and see if there is any phragmites around your area.”

“This week, we’re offering outdoor COVID-safe sessions where you can learn to ID the grass and what to do to get rid of it,” said Ms. Jones. “You can also find out a lot of it from our pamphlet on our Facebook page.”

To that end the Phragmites Week team is organizing two work bees, one on Burnt Island and a second in Rozell’s Bay at the Julia Bay boat launch.

Those interest in rolling up their sleeves for a very good cause should bring gloves, old shoes or rubber boots and socks and expect them to get wet. This is definitely not a sandals or water shoes experience, so leave them at home.

“This year, we’re stressing an important message: Learn to identify Phragmites and don’t drive (anything) through it,” said Ms. Jones. “Especially important now that there is exposed shoreline on Lake Huron again because phrag is mainly spread by human activities. Also: if you pull weeds off the boat prop, throw them into the boat and dispose of them on shore. Phragmites floats, so those weeds may float off and start new patches.”

The success seen by the pragmites team has been stellar over the past five seasons. “We’re working ourselves out of a job,” said Ms. Jones. “We’ve done more than 80 sites including all of the Lake Huron shore of the Island and we are hoping to finish South Bay and Michael’s Bay this year as well as starting some larger sites on Lake Wolsey, Rozell’s Bay and Little Thomas Bay.”

The Burnt Island/Silver Bay workbee will begin at 10:30 am on Tuesday, July 20, while the Julie Bay boat launch gathering will take place on Wednesday, July 21 at 10 am.

Together, phragmites can be kept at bay. See ad on Page 17 in the July 14th Expositor.