Project: Wasaga Beach Provincial Parks Stewardship Program

Laurel Finney of Parks Canada shares information on the Wasaga Beach Provincial Parks Stewardship Program that is working to manage Phragmites along Ontario’s longest freshwater beach.

What type of project is this?

  • Education and outreach
  • Direct management

Why is Phragmites an issue in your area?
Wasaga Beach, Ontario’s longest freshwater beach, is facing multiple threats that affect its overall health and sustainability. Invasive species, like Phragmites, are threatening native species habitat, out-competing native vegetation and aggressively overtaking the beachfront. The decline in native beach vegetation is affecting the ability of dunes to form and persist, causing the non-renewable ancient sand to erode from this relict beach, and disappear from the system.

What is your organization’s approach to invasive Phragmites management?

A three-year Phragmites Action Plan (2009-2011) was successful in identifying the best management options for Wasaga Beach Provincial Park (WBPP). Using the information collected from this three-year study, WBPP will continue the on-going management of invasive P. australis on the beachfront. Current locations of invasive P. australis stands will be identified and mapped using GPS. Removal of seed heads followed by stem cutting will occur in July, before seeds can spread and when most of the plants carbohydrate reserves are in the aerial portion of the plant. Herbicide application will occur in late fall, before the plants become dormant and after peak tourist season. Two to three weeks following the herbicide application treatment areas will be monitored again to assess success and determine need for re-spray. Appropriate signage and notifications will be posted to inform the public of herbicide application following the Pesticide Act and Ontario Parks policy. Control of P. australis will need to be performed every year due to the aggressive nature of this species and the connectivity of the Wasaga Beach shores to those neighboring it (Tiny, ON).

Who are your partners in this effort?

  • Ontario Parks
  • Ministry of Natural Resources
  • The Friends of Nancy Island & Wasaga Beach Park
  • Nottawasaga Conservation Authority
  • The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
  • The Town of Wasaga Beach
  • Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters

What are your funding sources?

We receive the majority of our funding from Ontario Parks. We have also submitted applications for external funding from:

  • Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem
  • Great Lakes Guardian Fund
  • Lake Simcoe/Southeastern Georgian Bay Clean-up fund

What are the goals and objectives for the project?

  1. Invasive Species Monitoring and Control. Phragmites will be surveyed, managed and controlled throughout the Wasaga Beach beachfront. This in turn will prevent further spread of invasive species, protecting native species and their habitat as well as providing available habitats for native species to establish. 
  2. Dune Restoration and Shore Stabilization. Through support and community involvement this project will help create and maintain dunes, an essential formation in beach ecosystems. This will provide protection of the beach habitat, native species, stabilize the shore and prevent the non-renewable sand from eroding.
  3. Shoreline Cleanup. Performing shoreline cleanups through community involvement and program support the ecosystem will be protected, eliminating the risks garbage and waste pose to wildlife, human health, and water quality.
  4.  Development of a Beach Stewardship Committee. Development of this committee will bring the community together, giving them a chance to discuss and share their opinions and advice towards beach stewardship and the stewardship projects in place at WBPP.
  5. Generate public education and outreach materials. Providing the community with reading materials and an updated website on local stewardship initiatives will provide them with information on these topics including how they can contribute and get involved. Educating the Wasaga Beach community on beach management, the importance of stewardship and the projects in place at WBPP will build community support, enhancing our ability to protect, conserve and maintain a healthy and sustainable beach ecosystem.

For more information contact, 

Laurel Finney

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park
11-22nd Street North
Wasaga Beach, Ontario L9Z 2V9