idra logo Inverhuron and District Ratepayers Association PHRAGMITES flag

An Inverhuron resident plea against Phragmites
(Sept 12,2012)
(Oct 4,2012)
Resolution from the council
(Oct 4,2012)
Phragmites australis is Canada's worst invasive plant
(Oct 4,2012)
(Oct 25,2012)
Phragmites burn in weeks, pending weather
(Apr 24 2013)
Phragmites is a major problem in Kincardine, says expert
(Apr 24 2013)
(Aug 13,2013)
(Aug 13,2013)
Letter to Honourable Jim Bradley Minister of Environment
(May 25 2014)

NEW Toolkits Ontario Phragmites Working Group
May 26 2017

An Inverhuron resident plea against Phragmites

2012 phfrimites-01.jpg.jpg

Inverhuron"s Donna Irvine has spent the last couple of weeks seeking out and photographing
areas in the Municipality of Kincardine where she has discovered the invasive weed Phragmites Australis.
Kevin Klerks demonstrates the height of the weed at one location at Scott's Point.

Dear Editor,
Christine Schiestel addressed Kincardine Council twice now: with her plea for help to The Kincardine Municipality, to address the beach along Sunset Drive at the bottom of Con. #10 and #12 north of McGregor Point where she is a resident.
After becoming interested in Christine's Endeavour, I attended a Phragmites Australis Public Information Meeting in Tiverton recently. I became aware of what appears to be a beautiful ornamental grass, is really an invasive weed that can start as a small patch and will spread like wild fire.
I went for a drive to view the situation, seeing is believing. I would have never imagined what I had seen, thus coming away in shock. I started to imagine how this would look at Inverhuron Beach where I live. Remembering a few years back when we had a patch or two of it and it was successfully removed with the help of Betty Lamont and volunteers.
It needs to be addressed as soon as it is spotted. Waiting only allows it to spread, by roots (rhizomes) and by up to 2,000 seeds from one head of the plant. This is a serious matter, and should not be taken lightly by any municipality, businesses and home owners.
Getting familiar with a picture now implanted in my mind, I see it every time I get out while driving. I found it in front of Bruce Power at a Gateway leading to their Tourist Information Centre, along Tie Rd in a field is full of the weed, Baie Du Doré; Scott Point: Bruce Dale Conservation Area, in the ditch in front of The Kincardine Municipality office, along Highway # 9 near Greenock, on Hwy. #21 near #9 and along #21 near the bridge at Tim Br Mart, and along #21 going into Port Elgin. Where next? I am sure I will see much more. All municipalities, ratepayer's, beach associations, federal and provincial Governments and everyone should be helping rid of the problem by being pro active and controlling this weed.
I have talked to various organizations as follows: Beacher's Directory - Larry Main : We became aware of the Phragmites problem five years ago. We drew it to the attention of the Town and Geoff Peach, Lake Huron Conservation Authority. We organized approx. 150 volunteers the first year to cut the weed before it bloomed. In subsequent years the Town has obtained permission from the Province to spray in the early fall. You cannot eradicate the weed, but you can control it. Southampton Ratepayers Association - Ken Robertson: President SRA: We also have problems with those invasive species. Bruce Beach - We, in co-operation with the Township of Huron-Kinloss, use a system of a wick and weed killer(Round-Up) to destroy phragmites. I would suggest you Google phragmites and you could come up with the best way to eradicate it. Ross Klopp - Lurgan Beach Association
We have had Phragmites issues but they have been 90% eradicated. This is handled and controlled by the Township of Huron Kinloss. Geoff Peach of Lake Huron Coastal Centre:
I'm afraid I don't agree with your contention that ATVs are benign to the coastal environment. They are considered to be one of the vectors for the spread of Phrag. This is identified in MNR public documentation regarding Phrag. In addition, this area of the coast is known to be habitat for several SAR. I've personally witnessed ATV operators drive off trail and onto shorelands.
I've attached one of our information sheets describing the impacts of motorized vehicles on coastal habitats. MNR Midhurst staff has distributed this information many times and support this information. ATV operators should be directed to the many trails available to them that do not include sensitive shorelines. Most are very reasonable once they are aware of why driving along the coast is not appropriate.
E-mails of many:
Donna Irvine wrote: to Geoff Peach:
A few years ago, The Municipality of Kincardine, invited the IDRA to send a representative to discuss Concerns of our coastal areas, and Geoff Peach: was hired and spoke to the group,
I believe that at that time, you made us aware of the problem at the bottom of Con. #10 on Sunset Dr. How serious was that problem, and from that time till now, how much do you think it has progressed? I am trying to get a handle on it growth. Donna
Reply: I think you're referring to the meetings we had when we were developing the Kincardine Coastal Stewardship Plan. That was in 2010 I believe. At that time Phragmites was pretty bad there. I put information into the plan to help make Council and the community aware of the problem. I think the stands have gotten progressively worse. We did a shore inventory of Phrag stands in 2007, and again last fall 2011, and produced reports each time. In 2007, Scott Point was noted as being a high priority area to start a control program. In 2011, the serious areas had progressed south up to McGregor Prov. Park. Geoff Peach - Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
Almost everywhere our neighbours all seem to have encountered a problem and have or are still working on it. We the public need to keep watch, and report to our Municipalities as to where it can be found.
The Kincardine Municipality has give $20,000 towards the problem at Sunset Dr. and many grants are being looked into it as will be needed to conquer or control the issue. This is could be far too little far too late.
As residents we should all take part and do what we can to rid this 'Devil in Disguise', this 'Monster on the Loose.' Report this to The Municipalities of where you have found it, do not try to remove it on your own.
Donna Irvine


October 1 2012           Grant application completed
October 2 2012           Grant application submitted to Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund

Phragmites australis is Canada's worst invasive plant

Saturday August 11, 2012
Leslie Scrivener Feature Writer
LONG POINT, ONT.-A wetlands ecologist, Janice Gilbert has become Ontario's go-to person for controlling Canada's worst invasive plant, the very one rippling like a dun-coloured sea around her.
Phragmites australis - Phrag, as she calls it - is pretty with its seed heads waving like feathery pennants in the Big Creek wetland, which drains into Lake Erie.
But the reed is a vicious invader.
It spreads manically and is very difficult to fully eradicate. Its rhizomes send out shoots in all directions below ground. Above ground it towers, five or more metres tall, each seed head containing at least 2,000 seeds.
"I've picked up one rhizome more than 30 metres long and every 30 centimetres there was a new shoot," says Gilbert.
"From one parent plant."
Phragmites are allelopathic, which means that they release toxins from their roots that impede the growth of other plants. In fact, the presence of other plants tends to stimulate the increase of these chemicals. "It can outcompete native plants for nutrients, water and sunlight," says Gilbert "and there is the double whammy that it can also kill them at their roots."
When Phragmites take over, animal life and especially species at risk - such as the spotted turtle and Fowler's toad - disappear. Plant diversity vanishes. A wetland usually abundant in cattails, bulrushes and sedges becomes a deceptively beautiful monoculture.
Sometimes water levels drop, too.
"In the interior of large, dense stands there's nothing - no nests, no scat, no tracks," says Gilbert, who works as a private consultant. "It's eerily quiet and to me, that sends up red flags. People don't understand what a threat it is to our wetlands system."
In March, the federal government quietly ended a program that funded small projects across the country to help community groups battle invasive species. Over seven years, the Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program supported 170 projects with $5.6 million in funding, but it was among Environment Canada's cuts in the omnibus Bill C-38.
In Ontario, work to eliminate Phragmites is done in "little piecemeal jobs," Gilbert says, when what's required is a province-wide control program. "What's needed is a dedicated team to do rapid response. We don't have infrastructure to deal with it until it's out of control, and we don't have the money to deal with it."
And so it spreads, along highways and country roads, railroad corridors, parks and beachfronts along the Great Lakes. Cottagers complain that that it not only blocks views but access to lake shores.
Recently, two new organizations, the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative, based in Michigan, and the Ontario Phragmites Working Group, have emerged to educate the public and share techniques on managing the mighty reed.
Phragmites australis had been in Canada 100 years before it was recognized as an alien invader, says Paul Catling, a senior scientist at Agriculture Canada. There's a native Phragmites americanus that looks very similar, but is less robust and less inclined to spread than Phragmites australis, whose origins are in Europe.
Earliest records show Phragmites in Annapolis Royal, N.S., in 1910, and in the years following was found only around seaports. In some parts of the Maritimes it was known as elephant grass because it was believed to be introduced on trains carrying elephants and other circus animals. Phragmites appeared around the St. Lawrence River Valley in the early 1920s and in the area of Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River by the 1940s.
Once in Ontario, Phragmites spread along highway corridors. It thrives in disturbed soil, and as population grows and more roads are built, it spreads further, carried on excavators, graders, plows, mowers and other equipment. Phragmites can be transported in the mud underneath cars and off-road vehicles.
Today Ontario has 441 invasive plant species, more than any other province.
Writing in the The Canadian Field-Naturalist last year, Catling and co-author Gisele Mitrow warned that the rate of spread, already accelerated, is likely to increase with climate warming.
Now scientists are worried about the effect ofPhragmites on the Prairie provinces, where it could not only impact wetlands (the primary concern in eastern Canada) but also agriculture by clogging irrigation systems and interfering with the growth of wild rice.
If it gets into the prairie sloughs, where waterfowl breed, Phragmites could also dry them up and affect sports hunting. "Hunting of ducks on the prairies is worth millions of dollars," says Catling, "so this is not only a concern for biologists, but also a general concern and has substantial economic value."
Because Phragmitesspreads mostly by tenacious underground rhizomes, getting rid of it is tough. Mechanical control methods such as cutting or burning can control the reed in specific sites, but spraying chemical herbicides seems to be most effective tools and sometimes have less impact on the ecosystem.
Herbicides can't be used over water, however, because they contain a surfactant known to harm aquatic life. Scientists have to wait until water levels are low before they can spray the plants. What's badly needed, Gilbert says, is a legal herbicide that can be used over water -such products are legal in the U.S.
Just mowing down the reed without an herbicide can stimulate growth, increase its density and require repeated cutting. There are more unusual methods: on Staten Island, N.Y., goats have been used to eat Phragmites as part of a wetlands restoration program.
When Phragmites invaded the carefully nurtured wetlands at Tommy Thompson Park on the Leslie Street spit, staff tried injecting an herbicide directly into the stem to avoid contaminating native plants. But it was too time-consuming, says Karen McDonald a project manager with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
"If we don't stay on top of it, we could see the loss of native plants diversity we have tried to hard to get there."
Gilbert, who has a Ph.D. in environmental science from Ohio State University, has spent much of her career assessing the health of Ontario wetlands. Increasingly, her job has involved advising communities and parks on how to get rid Phragmites safely, so much so that she's considered provincial expert in it.
Spraying chemicals on plants is contrary to Gilbert's instinct. "It feels wrong," she says, "but I don't see any other way." She's seen the evidence that native plants return and flourish when Phragmites is killed off by spraying a herbicide.
There's no evidence to support the argument of letting Mother Nature sort it out, she argues.
"In the meantime we are losing hundred and hundred so acres of habitat. We need to be a corrective force."
She walks in a sedge meadow near Long Point where Phragmites grows sparsely. It's a pleasant stroll through the native rushes and wildflowers, and you can see the complementary architecture of different-sized plants.
"Give this area five to seven years and it will all fill in - all the way out there - and this will be lost."

Phragmites burn in weeks, pending weather

By Alanna Rice
Kincardine News
The invasive species phragmites (common reed) has taken root in the northern shoreline of the Municipality of Kincardine and a controlled burn is scheduled this month.
Karen Alexander, the outreach and education coordinator at the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, said phragmites is "very aggressive" and needs to be dealt with now.
"It will just get worse," said Alexander, adding if the invasive species continues to spread, it can "completely take over an area" and will cost even more money to control.
A scheduled burn of the affected areas will take place this month and will remove a bulk of the reeds. In a public notice, it states the burn will start near Institute Road and follow the shoreline north to the MacGregor Point Provincial Park boundary.
Afterwards, herbicide will be applied at different times throughout the year, with follow-up treatments for several years afterward, reads the notice. It also notes the burn will be conducted by Wildfire Specialists Inc. in cooperation with Dover Agri-Serve - Habitat Restoration Specialists.
The invasive reed is a tall stock and can become "very dense," said Alexander. She adds the reed is "very impactful" to the area and will cause a loss of habitat for wildlife who call the area home.
In addition to loss of habitat, the reeds are known to impact the natural way water flows, block access to the lake, change nutrients in surrounding soil and increase fire hazards. Alexander refers to a story about a fire that started in a ditch full of the Phragmites after someone tossed a cigarette.
"Those are real risks," said Alexander.
Alexander said the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation is creating a "Phragmites management plan" for the Municipality of Kincardine, which will discuss control methods, proper times in the year to act, along with other information to deal with the invasive species. The plan will focus on the northern shoreline, but can be used in other areas of the municipality.
Brian Burnett, owner of Wildfire Specialists Inc., said the prescribed burn will "remove last year's growth" of the Phragmites and any seeds in order to control the species.
He hopes to begin the burn within the next week; however, weather conditions need to be right in order to start the process. Burnett said waiting for proper weather ends up being a "day to day, hour to hour" operation, since the weather has been changing frequently. He said they'll wait until the "winds are in our favour" so smoke will not disturb those living in the area.
For more information, call Karen Alexander at 226-421 3029 or Brian Burnett at 705 698-4342

Phragmites is a major problem in Kincardine, says expert

By Liz Dadson
Kincardine Times
Phragmites is a major problem in Kincardine but more action and better funding from all levels of government are required to help eradicate this invasive species.
That's the word from Janice Gilbert, wetland ecologist and expert on the subject of Phragmites Australis, also known as European Common Reed.
Gilbert was invited to speak at the Kincardine environment action committee's public awareness meeting Saturday morning at the municipal administrative centre. About 30 people turned out for the event.
Kincardine is just beginning its program to control Phragmites in the municipality, whereas neighbouring Saugeen Shores and Huron-Kinloss have been working to eradicate Phragmites for the past three to five years.
"Phragmites is Canada's worst invasive plant," said Gilbert, adding that Ontario is not where it should be in terms of trying to control and eradicate Phragmites which has taken over many coastal wetlands and threatens many wetland areas inland.
"In Kincardine, Phragmites is well-established along the Lake Huron coastline," said Gilbert. "If you do nothing about it, it can get really bad. It's a sneaky plant. It starts small but grows rapidly and it is pervasive."
Once established, the plant spreads underground via rhizomes, she said. "It has a wide tolerance of habitat conditions, and it can be found on every continent except Antarctica. There is no native species that can compete with it, in order to keep it in check."
Phragmites was first discovered in Canada in 1910, in southwest Nova Scotia. The first known species in Ontario was found on Walpole Island in 1948. It began to spread from 1970-1990, and then increased speed in the 1990s into northern and western Ontario. In the next 20 years, it will have spread right across Canada.
Gilbert believes rapid spread of Phragmites was caused by the population expansion in the 1990s which brought a lot of new development. That changed the hydrology of the landscape and added a lot of nutrients to the land.
Increased Phragmites along the lakeshore means loss of recreational opportunities, such as fishing and canoeing, and even a walk along the beach, said Gilbert. It also means a reduction in property values for lakefront land owners.It impacts tourism, and causes a fire hazard because of the dead biomass it leaves behind.
"My big concern is the impact it has on the wetland ecosystem, said Gilbert. "It can significantly lower the water table, and can destroy plant biodiversity."
In a sampling she took of an area infested with Phragmites, she discovered that 28 per cent was live Phragmites, three per cent was other species of plants, and 69 per cent was dead Phragmites. That can have a huge impact on the habitat for many birds and animals, as well as plants.
Gilbert said there are a variety of non-chemical controls, such as livestock grazing, drowning of the Phragmites, biological control, cutting, mowing, plowing, smothering, burning, but most of these are not recommended, especially for large areas of Phragmites.
She said the United States has two chemicals, Rodeo and Habitat, that can be applied aerially and are very effective in eradicating Phragmites.
The U.S. government spends $4-million annually on its control program, said Gilbert, while the Canadian government spends nothing.
The Rondeau Park program, with which she was involved, was receiving $28,000 to $35,000 per year from the province, but this year there is no funding for the program.
"It's very frustrating," said Gilbert. "We have to have a long-term plan in place. We have to hit the Phragmites once and then follow-up for several years to ensure it is eradicated. If you hit it once and then just leave it alone, that's not effective."
Chemicals approved for control of Phragmites in Canada are Weathermax and Vision but neither is approved for use over water, said Gilbert.
Meanwhile, municipalities are hamstrung by the province because they need a Letter of Opinion from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to conduct chemical spraying of Phragmites.
That's frustrating too," said Gilbert, "trying to get through the system."
She said the best control system is to spray the Phragmites in the fall, roll it after it has died, and then burn it. That was used at Rondeau Park and, after three years, the ecosystem has been restored.
As for the Municipality of Kincardine, it is currently entering Phase 1 in which Gilbert is putting together a management plan, with help from Karen Alexander of the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation. Phase 1 will run along the lakeshore from north of Baie du Dore to MacGregor Point Provincial Park.
"I've already walked that entire coastline," said Gilbert, "and we've chosen the best spots to do the spraying." Expert sprayer, Frank Letourneau, will be brought in to do the work.
The next steps, Gilbert said, are to engage the community, develop a rapid-response program, expand into Phase 2 to include Bruce Power and MacGregor Park, and acquire the required funding to do the work.
"You are fortunate that the municipality is able to fund the work this year," said Gilbert, "but the cost should not be on the municipality alone. The province should step up and so should the federal government."
There is also the need to approve an over-water and aerial herbicide to control Phragmites, she said, urging the public to contact the local MPP and MP and get them to do something about this problem.
In response to questions, Gilbert said Kincardine's management plan should be done this week, and acquiring a Letter of Opinion should not be a problem, allowing work to begin in August of this year.
Other speakers at the meeting were Donna Lacey of the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) speaking about the Emerald Ash Borer; Jim Penner of the SVCA about Giant Hogweed, and Vince Cascone about the Bruce Area Solid Waste Recycling program.

Letter to Honourable Jim Bradley Minister of Environment

Our community's constituents alerted the local government (Municipality of Kincardine) of the phragmites emergency which is not only impacting the Municipality but extending beyond those boundaries with implications of impacting all of Canada. We supported our concern with detailed facts followed by suggestions of a viable solution. In public session it appeared Council members understood the compelling nature of the issue and agreed to act swiftly with a promise of funding, but they changed their minds in camera. We are in quicksand here and the volunteers and experts involved in our phragmites plight need help from your level. Phragmites has incredible fortitude and is unfazed by "protected dunes" or "sensitive wetlands." The phragmites issue is a dilemma that is on the way to becoming an insurmountable problem affecting our entire Nation. Your Ministry is the venue that can mobilize all municipalities to join forces in order to bring this lose cannon under control.
I will gain nothing from my efforts except peace of mind that I have done all I can to help my community, the Province of Ontario, Canada - - and my grandchildren - - by calling attention to inconsistencies I see from our local government that hinder moving forward in our current crisis. Individuals and scattered groups are running helter-skelter to try to remedy the situation. Is there no one at the helm to steer Canadians through this nationwide problem?
In 2012 I unwittingly brought together a growing number of equally concerned citizens. This battle has consumed personal time, energy and commitment on a daily basis. It is now clear that the Municipality of Kincardine no longer fully appreciates the gravity of the phragmites situation and the concerns of its constituents. Council is prepared to abandon their original financial commitment - which was realized, in the first place, by the hard work and dedication of a few well-informed and passionate residents and constituents. Volunteers within the Municipality of Kincardine, and others throughout the Province of Ontario, have had hopes dashed when, as constituents, they do not perceive steady support from their government. We are now discouraged, frustrated and cynical. What follows is an overview of our two year struggle with phragmites - - and government.
In the summer of 2012 I approached Council on behalf of my community on two different occasions (July 4th and August 8th) to plea for funding to begin the plan to control the phragmites consuming the 400+ acreage. I provided the names of the experts I had spoken to ahead of the two delegations and an idea of costs. The delegations were carefully researched and thought out. I presented a problem and a viable solution to that problem. The sum of $20,000 was committed after the first delegation. I went to Council the second time to ask for an additional $10,000 and, instead, Council agreed to provide carte blanche funding for the experts to go ahead and spray the entire acreage. The Management Plan, training, equipment, etcetera, were to follow as funding allowed. The Municipality was flush with money in their coffers at the time. Councillor Ron Coristine was quoted as saying, "These things are so aggressive, the longer we wait the more expensive it will be." "If we don't spend $10,000 now, we may be spending $30,000 later." Mayor Larry Kraemer agreed "to treat the phragmites infestation as an urgent problem", and said, "In a pinch, I could always call a special meeting of council." (2) After the delegations I sent an email to our concerned community that my understanding was the entire acreage would be sprayed as soon as possible and the Implementation Plan, Training, etcetera, would follow in 2013's budget.
At the time of the two delegations in 2012, Dr. Janice Gilbert, wetland ecologist and the top provincial expert on phragmites control, felt it would cost $45,000 per year for the next five years to bring the phragmites under control. She completed the Management Plan June 2013 and quoted $98,000 in costs. She states, "The Management Plan is designed to be implemented over a four year period but can be easily adjusted according to available funding." (3) It was not until after the Plan was produced that we discovered funding would be restricted and would follow the five year plan. We were never notified of this total change to the commitment Council had made at the second delegation. In fact, we were made aware of this when the specialist came to spray the impacted area, informing us that they had been restricted to a $20,000 budget for spraying and for the design of the Management Plan for 2013.
A Great Lakes Funding Application was submitted by volunteers for the Municipality of Kincardine and its community when the MOE offered up to $25,000 to those Municipalities and communities requesting it to improve their shoreline. Volunteers spent hours burning the midnight oil preparing the funding request. Specialists were consulted on the final submission. (For some unknown reason, we do not hear from the coordinator appointed by the Municipality of Kincardine and, because of this, we liaise with the Great Lakes Coastal Conservation Centre to keep abreast of the coastal environmental issues.) After it was submitted the MOE advised funding was offered on a "first come first served basis." Consequently, the Municipality of Kincardine did not receive funding. When the funding was offered once more in 2013, the Municipality of Kincardine did not re-submit the request. An envelope and a stamp were the only things missing. This funding represents one-quarter of the money needed for the 400+ acres of immediate concern.
On June 8, 2013 the Environmental Action Group held a meeting for the community with Dr. Gilbert as keynote speaker. I publicly asked Council to explain what happened to the commitment made in August 2012 but the question was never answered. The $20,000 committed in the first delegation of July 2012 became the money allocated for the specialists to begin spraying and preparing the Management Plan in 2013. An additional $10,000, at the very least, was promised at the second delegation. The $20,000 from 2012 was not carried over and used along with the $20,000 the Management Plan stipulated for 2013. In other words, the total for 2013 phragmites fighting should have been $40,000 plus the $10,000 from the second delegation - fifty thousand dollars. The $98,000 had been available and the experts should have been contracted and paid all at once. They feel confident the phragmites will be controlled in this specific area eventually but emphasize that carte blanche funding - - - as endorsed by Council August 8, 2012 - - - would have brought a much swifter resolution.
On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, The Kincardine Independent printed a front page article titled "Money in the bank - Substantial reserve funds in place, says auditor." "The Municipality has roughly $24 million in reserve funds; $18 million which are cash reserves and $6 million which are unfunded." (4)
Although the control plan was initiated in 2013 (because the Letter of Opinion was received too late in 2012), this factor should not have precluded the Municipality carrying the $20,000 over and adding it into the funding for 2013. Of special note, the Environmental Action Group was set up by the Municipality thanks to this community's concern.
I recommended a motion in my first delegation to the Municipality of Kincardine Council July 4, 2012 that included all the necessary components needed to move forward with the phragmite control process including spraying, education, training, and all the resources necessary. My second delegation was August 8, 2012 and, at that time, I reiterated "I respectfully and highly recommend you make a motion, second it, and act on it. " (5) On Wednesday, August 14, 2013 -- one year later -- the Municipality of Kincardine Council moved and carried a motion to this effect.
The July 4, 2012 Municipality of Kincardine Council minutes state, "The Committee discussed her request (Christine Schiestel) noting: may need Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources to investigate;" (6) The last paragraph of the motion carried on August 14, 2013 by the Municipality of Kincardine Council states, "AND FURTHER THAT this request be forwarded to the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture & Food, the Ministry of Health, and Lisa Thompson, MPP." (7) Again, this was recommended action in both delegations to Council in 2012.
Municipalities and provincial parks scattered throughout the Province have engaged the services of Dr. Gilbert and Frank Letourneau, Habitat Restoration Specialist - both sanctioned by your Ministry in the Province of Ontario. Unfortunately, their efforts can be likened to a band-aid solution as they can only work according to staggered requests. Dr. Gilbert was interviewed by the Saturday Star in August 2012. She stated, "What's needed is a dedicated team to do rapid response. We don't have infrastructure to deal with it until it's out of control, and we don't have the money to deal with it." (8) These are just two individuals doing what they can to thwart the phragmites scourge - but with woefully inadequate funding. Isolated campaigns cannot fight phragmites. This is war on a national scale and the phragmites are winning.
These two essential specialists have to work around their schedules to comply with the intermittently funded response requested by the Municipality of Kincardine, and I can confirm that it would have been much more practical and economical for Mr. Letourneau to minimize his trips from Chatham, Ontario to Port Elgin. He trailered two argo centaurs and the variety of other equipment he would need. He stayed at a local motel with his staff over a period of several days.
It is worth noting that the St. Clair Township council turned down the community of Wallaceburg when they requested funding for their phragmites control project involving 100 provincially sensitive acres on April 9th of this year. (9) Incidentally, the 400+ acres in my neighbourhood are also sensitive wetlands. Why are communities experiencing difficulty in obtaining the funding their respective councils to combat phragmites? We are desperate for your Ministry's help with what community after community considers a very serious and life-altering issue.
When I approached Bruce Nuclear Power, they declined to provide funding for controlling "the weed", citing they did not wish to be shown as supporting the spraying of a chemical along the shoreline. This "chemical" is a solution of Roundup Weathermax with a 5% Roundup, 1% soy bean oil (helps the product to stick to the plant and avoid drippage). The remainder is water. The U.S. uses aquatic friendly "RODEO" and "HABITAT". The U.S. government dedicates hundreds of thousands of dollars to bordering states and sprays the shoreline by using helicopters. Canada does not sanction the use of RODEO or HABITAT.
In 2007 a study by the Lake Huron Coastal Conservation Centre was conducted and concluded "…in the absence of a safe, licensed, glyphosate-based herbicide for use in aquatic settings, Canada appears to be completely without any cost-effective means of controlling one of its most aggressive invasive plant species. The Canadian regulation process can be lengthy and costly. A long-term action for concerned conservationists could also be to lobby the federal government (specifically Health Canada and Environment Canada) to complete its required studies and to regulate these herbicides that are specifically designed for environmental applications in aquatic settings." (10) I do not understand why things have not changed in seven years. A Letter of Opinion to the MNR takes time to process but is "time-limited." It is a prerequisite and, yet, is a stumbling block for responders because of the wait time to receive it. Would it not be more expeditious to open talks with Health Canada?
If I prefer not to mow my weedy lawn, then your lawn - no matter how meticulously you care for it - will grow my weeds. The same applies to the Lake Huron shoreline. I firmly believe top down management needs to be in place, including within the Federal and Provincial Governments. Direction regarding phragmites control needs to be given to the Municipalities that includes timelines for reporting back and enforcement for delinquency. Phragmites is not discriminating and growing solely in my neighbourhood. Political response from the Municipal level within this Province has been fragmented and inconsistent and fighting the phragmites weed from this perspective promises no sustainability. What is drastically needed is infrastructure. Lake Huron belongs to a group of fresh water lakes touted as being the largest fresh water bodies in the world and I simply do not understand why we are not moving immediately to save this wondrous Lake from certain demise.
Regardless of which organization has shoreline jurisdiction -- the MOE, MNR, Conservation Authorities, Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Government of Canada Invasive Species, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Parks Canada -- all Municipalities, and any other provincial or federal organization with lakeside jurisdiction, must be collectively and actively involved. In my opinion, a Committee needs to be formed of representatives with the knowledge and the leverage needed to be dedicated to phragmites control. Communication will increase tenfold if one board is responsible for directing municipalities. This board needs to mobilize communities such as the Municipality of Kincardine to forget about political election posturing and set aside funding requests for areas that can wait for later times. A timeline for the committee formation needs to be set and an action plan implemented from there.
In October 2012 our Municipality decided not to become a member of The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. The Kincardine Independent OPINION article of October 10, 2012 said it all: "The reaction was predictable because the municipality has shown by its actions that it's not interested in the lake." (11) The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is "a binational coalition of mayors and other local officials that works actively with federal, state, and provincial governments to advance the protection of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River." "Through an integrated approach to environmental, social and economic agendas within their communities, U.S. and Canadian mayors of the Cities Initiative are leading a movement that will sustain our fresh water resources long into the future." (12) We shut a big door to communication with the U.S. and those Canadian mayor members who would likely have a lot to offer our Municipality regarding the phragmites fight and more. But the larger question is - "WHERE IS THE ACTION PLAN?"
The Kincardine Independent OPINION article expresses the community's frustrations. "While neighbouring Huron-Kinloss has been trying to improve water quality along the lakeshore, Kincardine has twiddled its thumbs…Kincardine, on the other hand, is just starting a phragmites control program. And it is needed - just look at the infestation at the foot of King Street." (11)
To punctuate the OPINION article's theme and the concerns that prompted me to engage in this process in the first place, on AUGUST 22, 2013, The Kincardine News printed an article titled "Phragmites Plan being created for use by municipal staff". It reported: "Deputy Mayor Anne Eadie announced to council the creation of the municipality's phragmites Management Plan….The projected costs for 2013 is $20,000 which has already been approved, plus an additional $27,000 for 2014, $42,000 for 2015 and $9,000 for 2016 with ongoing maintenance. Eadie recommended to write a letter to the appropriate provincial ministries for funding to help control the invasive weed in the municipality." (13) (It was high time that these letters finally be written.) My two delegations were made over a year previous to this meeting and, it was back then, that council dedicated funds to spray the 400+ acres. The entire project changed course at the whim of council. It is now obvious that Council reneged. It now appears all we heard was idle chatter at these delegations.
The general public have been misled and understand only what they read in the newspaper or online. For example, they will believe there was only enough money to have $20,000 dedicated to fighting the phragmites in 2013. Huron-Kinloss is a community with a proactive council. The Municipality of Kincardine, however, has elected a reactive council.
The Municipality of Kincardine is not the only community with shoreline residents who feel that their council does not care about the lake. For example, there are Inverhuron taxpayers who asked to join our initiative because they share the same concerns.

Eveyone must be taught that phragmites does not belong in planters on their porch. It needs to be handled by experts. Without doing the research, for example, I would not have known that cutting it gives the phragmites a stronger footing and if someone chooses to cut it down they have to keep at it year after year before they will be successful. Over the past week I have asked several people if they knew what phragmites was. No one has answered with, "Yes."
There is a large tax base occupying the perimeter of Lake Huron and folks are upset at their loss of equity that many worked for all their lives. They are starting to take matters into their own hands. I am aware that within the past year several landowners decided to burn the phragmites. This is an extremely dangerous practice and requires a fire department standing by. EDUCATION is paramount and multi-media can help the process of informing the entire Canadian population. This needs to start now!
Our community received notice on May 5th of this year, that the areas sprayed in 2013 - - - Boiler Beach and a portion of Sunset Drive - - - will have a prescribed burn take place soon and we will be notified ahead of time. We are happy to know this but, I repeat, the email notification comes from someone we have never heard of and does not come from the Municipality of Kincardine phragmites coordinator. Over the past two years we have relied on the Lake Huron Coastal Conservation Centre to keep us informed.
Federal and provincial governments need to undertake supportive action by way of financing and training. These governments must decide how to allocate sufficient funding in the face of a demand that is "growing like topsy." After all, there is an incredible mixture of organizations with jurisdiction on the beach and each is filled with expertise to draw from for implementation and follow-up. We want to be assured, additionally, that the required funds for the remaining years of the Plan will be secured in the appropriate budgets for continued planning, training and spraying. Of course, each municipality needs to appoint a coordinator. The coordinator needs to keep council and tax-paying constituents aware of progress as it relates to phragmites control. It is incumbent, therefore, on that individual to remain informed. I see this job as paramount in the grand scheme. It brings government and community together and enhances communication and commonalities.
The multitude of other aquatic invaders such as zebra and quagga mussels currently negatively impacting our incredible waters could be included under this umbrella. The watchful eye of the Great Lakes overseers seems to have been closed for a very long time. They must all be actively involved and on the same page.
Incidentally, in September 2012 - - - the same year we asked for funding to control the phragmites - - - thousands of dollars in government grants went to Trinity Square Video, a Toronto production company that offered courses on producing PORNOGRAPHY, including the course, "Grow Your Own Porn…2012 Style." The company received $250,000 federally from the Canadian Heritage & Canada Council for the Arts, $150,000 from the Ontario Arts Council and $150,000 from the Toronto Arts Council. (1) I cannot even wrap my head around this funding of $550,000!! I can only imagine what that kind of money would do to control the phragmites issue. I wish we had approached these Councils and requested funding. If we had known that pornography can be construed as "art", we would have done our best to interpret phragmites as an art form as well! It would have been worth a try considering how sick and under siege Lake Huron is.
Councils need to key in to the larger picture and start to work with neighbouring municipalities when an issue arises that affects more than just that municipality. Regardless of who has shoreline jurisdiction, discussion opportunities must be open, transparent, and on-going so as to ensure that all constituents are represented.
The Municipality of Kincardine Council has not examined the broader scope of the impact of phragmites and what it means not only to our community but to Canadians in general. They herald transient causes and their focus appears largely urban. We believe they do not feel accountable and are not willing to empower others. As a result, as constituents, we are scared and skeptical of what our future will bring.
Communication should be assured along both Canadian and American shorelines with one goal in mind - - to end the massacre we are witnessing. It is time for information sharing and unified action. Invitations need to be sent out to have representatives from the federal and provincial governments to attend a meeting that determines what actions need to take place and who can provide what resources. This is a problem that requires full cooperation from organizations of influence and the ability to coordinate the monetary resources necessary for the action plan.
We heard some years ago that something was going to be done to 'eradicate' this weed. We had expected the "government" to champion the process but sweeping intervention did not take place. I now believe it was going to come by way of the Invasive Alien Species Program Dr. Gilbert mentioned when she was interviewed by the Toronto Star. The Program "funded small projects across the country to help community groups battle invasive species..." and "supported 170 projects with $5.6 million in funding." (15) That essential program is now defunct.
Taxpayers cannot understand the rationale behind NOT dealing with the phragmites problem. Some feel the response is too late and are fed up; they cut it down or spray full blast Roundup to get rid of it in front of their property. They do not understand how complicated the weed really is. What does a farmer do when it reaches his crops? Who will pay the consequences of government inaction when private lands are impacted as a result?
Pristine beaches used to take care of themselves along the Lake Huron shoreline. They are now becoming overgrown with phragmites and rimmed with sludge. Meanwhile, Kincardine's main beach is pristine. Many have speculated, because of the phragmites invasion, that this beach owes its existence to mechanical and/or chemical intervention in order to sustain the tourist appeal for swimming and premier surfing - - - both an important part of the Municipality's livelihood.
Phragmites will not disappear over time. It will fester relentlessly. It will never go away. Shoreline vegetation, some growing in sensitive wetlands, will be eradicated; sand dunes will disappear; our homes will continue to lose their equity; the ecosystem will change; birds and wildlife relying on the coastline for sustainability will perish; provincial parks will become ghostly and close; natural drainage will be impacted; safety and security of anyone walking near the shoreline will be compromised - tourism will be non-existent in shoreline communities. The phragmites "weed" falls just short of having a brain - it is that cunning in its growth habit.
The task of bringing the phragmites under control from a global perspective is an ominous undertaking, considering the funding that will be required for liaising, education, training, equipment, staffing, research, and contracting with experts. Volunteers bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table and it would be a strategical error not to give them consideration in the planning. These folks are the ones who can help in so many ways - and for FREE! Volunteers in our area feel their concerns are not heeded and their efforts are undervalued. This is unacceptable. They are a most valuable resource and bring a plethora of expertise to the table.
If the scope of response is not inclusive of all governments, our grandchildren will be the ones who suffer. The volunteers and the response experts need help from your level.
Because of the severity of the winter of 2014 and, therefore, subsequent rise in water levels, specialists have confirmed that phragmites previously growing along the edge of the shoreline are now growing in the Lake. The alarming implications of this new variable are exponential and beg the question: Is Health Canada aware that an aquatic friendly herbicide, such as Habitat, needs to be approved and applied now? The sole phragmites chemical expert in the Province of Ontario advocates its use. It can be sprayed near water. The U.S. has it sprayed over fields of phragmites from helicopters. Could a delegation meet with Duncan Hawthorne, President and CEO of Bruce Power, and ask if their company would revisit their stand and consider being involved in sitting on a Board? Bruce Power would be an invaluable ally. This invitation should probably also be extended to the Ontario Power Generation.
Although it was incumbent that I justify my reason for appealing directly to your office and Ministry by explaining what has or has not occurred in my Municipality, finding accountability for who is responsible for this escalating catastrophe would be reactive, whereas what is needed is a proactive and immediate response.
After careful research and study I have concluded that there is an egregious lack of protocols and political will.
Christine Schiestel
16 Sunset Drive
Port Elgin, ON. N0H 2C5
Phone 519.368.4868

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revised 2017 May 26