This week marks Phragmites Week

Volunteers with the Manitoulin Phragmites Project tackle phragmites stands on the shores of Manitoulin Island.

Get involved, help stop the spread of phragmites

MANITOULIN—Coming up this Saturday is the start of the annual Phragmites Week. The goal of the Manitoulin Phragmites Project is to keep knocking back the advance of this invasive grass so that the property owners’ annual maintenance will allow them to keep up with the attack.

Phragmites grow up to 15 feet tall and will take over any damp location from shallow water areas to beach locations. It grows so thick that cottage owners cannot even see the water and accessing their shoreline requires a brush-cutter. Left unchecked, the plants double in area in just one year, along with the obvious loss in property values.

For example, the Manitoulin Phragmites Project has a massive goal for this summer. Picture this, all around the mouth of our beautiful Blue Jay Creek are 17 hectares of super-dense phragmites. For the fisher-people among us this means that this takes away a huge, important fish spawning and feeding grounds. While talking with project leader Judith Jones, she said that even the lowly carp, the fish so down the hierarchy that they are not even protected by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, cannot find a spot to spawn among the dense stands of phragmites.

During Phragmites Week last year, more than 200 volunteers were involved and have made a huge difference in the sprawl. The project again is graciously offering house-calls to identify and prescribe a treatment for individual properties. All week, from July 21 to the 27, the Manitoulin Phragmites Project is holding work-bees and demos. They will let us know what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, without knowledge of how this plant operates. Cutting it off with brush cutters is often counterproductive as just little bits of phragmites ‘shrapnel’ can sprout more of the menace.

Other things that we do that are making things worse is our use of machines. In the winter when we cross through those tall weeds poking through the snow we spread seeds and plant bits to take root in the spring. During the non-snow portion of the calendar, we drive quads through phragmites and help its already rapid spread.

For more detailed information, visit the Manitoulin Phragmites Project Facebook page. Their page provides a wealth of information to identify this plant that may be new to you as it was me. If you would like to organize a home visit send them an email at manitoulinphrag@yahoo.com.