Project: Phragmites Removal at Wymbolwood Beach

Lynn Short briefs us on a project launched by the Environment Committee of the Wymboldwood Beach Association.

What is the geographic scope of the project?

Residential properties along Wymbolwood Beach,ON, from 450 Tiny Beaches Rd. S to 715 Tiny Beaches Rd. S.

Type of project

  • Education/outreach
  • Direct management (i.e. spraying, burning)

Why is Phragmites an issue in your area?

As the level of water in Lake Huron (specifically Georgian Bay) has been dropping over the last 15 years, the exposed beach has become colonized by Phragmites australis. It is out-competing the native species present and is forming large, dense monocultures.

How are you approaching this issue?

Individual residents are responsible for their own property. The project is promoted by the Environment Committee of the Wymbolwood Beach Association. I have been able to present information about this invasive plant at our AGM and through articles in our annual yearbook. I also walk along the beach discussing the issue with residents, encouraging them to take action against this plant.

What are the funding sources?

Individual residents are responsible for paying for the removal service or they can choose to do the work themselves.

What are the goals and objectives for the project?

We would like to control this invasive plant all along Wymbolwood Beach. This would enhance aesthetics as well as access to the shore for recreational activities.

What type of land does your project target?

Private property along Georgian Bay (Beachfront land).

Do you monitor the areas that you manage? If so, what does that entail?

I walk along the beach to observe the locations of the invasive plant. They are easily visible from the beach shore. Some residents report their progress with controlling the plant.

What is the status of the program and are you seeing results?

In the areas that have been managed for more than 5 years (and continue to be managed), there is good control with a minimum of effort. In areas that have been managed for 2 consecutive years, there is evidence of improvement in the reduction of Phragmites and the increase in biodiversity, including the return of frogs to these areas.

Can you share information about challenges and lessons learned (both about what worked and what did not work)?

This method is labour intensive and requires real persistence. The cut plants must be dried and burned. If left piled on the beach, the sand will eventually cover them and they will regrow and use the buried stalks as a source of nutrients. This results in a difficult situation to remove later. If an area is cleared of most of the stalks but some are left, the rhizomes seem to receive nutrients from the remaining stalks (since they are all connected) and easily regrow. It is important to remove all the stalks in an area. Removal of the stalks should be undertaken starting in mid July since, by then, most of the energy is out of the rhizomes and is in the upper stalks getting ready to flower. If cut too soon, the plant will regrow and flower. If cut later, the plant may regrow but will be unable to flower.

Please provide any additional information here.

The plant material was submitted to the Chicago Botanic Gardens last fall and was determined by DNA testing to be the exotic species.

For more information contact:

Lynn Short
36 Longfield Road
Etobicoke, Ontario M9B 3G3
[email protected]