The LSPCG is a grass-roots organization led by eight volunteer board members, formalized under a Terms of Reference, and supported by a resource team that includes a wetland ecologist, a contractor well known in the area for specializing in sensitive habitats, and the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation. Initiative partners include landowners, homeowners associations, non-profit organizations, local and provincial agencies, First Nations, and private corporations. Local communities impacted by non-native Phragmites are engaged through LSPCG subcommittees that include local volunteers that help form neighbourhood connections, monitor treatment areas, and organize other volunteers.
The volunteer LSPCG board members currently coordinate the program for the MLS. To reduce volunteer burn-out and ensure the long-term performance of the program, LSPCG recommended that this position should be taken up by an employee of the MLS. Eventually, the goal is for the subcommittees to be able to function with more self-sufficiency, with background support, materials, and coordination maintained centrally.
Though landowners that are uninterested in participating in the program remain a challenge, this broad partner base facilitates cost-sharing for community events, resource and skill sharing through in-kind services, and assistance with broader outreach to the community. It also gives credibility to the larger organization, improves trust among members, and reduces red-tape when applying for permits.
|Partnership Example: Community Information Sessions|
|LSPCG identified the need for community information sessions and developed a grant application to the Grand Bend Community Foundation. The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) prepared the application with LSPCG’s assistance and signed as the applicant. The ABCA’s Communication Specialist developed media releases and flyers. LSPCG arranged the speakers, including the President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, a Nature Conservancy Canada representative, the Mayor of Lambton Shores, a Drainage Superintendent from a neighbouring community, and a local area farmer. The MLS and the Grand Bend Community Health Centre donated their facilities, and local farmers and businesses donated door prizes for the events. Local newspapers gave news coverage.|
In 2014, MLS adopted the Invasive Phragmites Management Plan, a formal, long-term plan to guide management in the region. The LSPCG has helped improve the coordination of management across boundaries despite jurisdictional issues and low provincial engagement. A meeting between county and municipal managers and roadside superintendents in 2012, led to significant improvements in coordination; the MLS and county began hiring the same contractor and committed money ($30,000 and $150,000 respectively between 2013 and 2015) to manage roadside populations.
Because the LSPCG is not a registered organization, partner organizations must serve as the applicants when applying for grant funding. Grants are typically sought individually for each project site, and applying for grants is an ongoing task. While grants provide significant resources, they come with several challenges. Some grants have inflexible dates and do not allow funds to be carried over into the next fiscal year, despite variable weather and site conditions that may not be conducive for the required activities in the given time period. Many of the grants LSPCG partners have received have been limited to one year, and some did not fund herbicide application. Additional funding provided by donations from partners has been critical for the maintenance work needed in subsequent years.