Invasive Phragmites Eradication for the Health of our Water and Wetlands 2021 Report
1 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Authors This report was prepared 2021 by Georgian Bay Forever • Nicole Carpenter, Project Coordinator • Sean Mullin, Summer Phragmites Coordinator • Heather Sargeant, Communications Director and past contributions by Brooke Harrison, Project Coordinator Acknowledgements The Phragmites Coastal Eradication Program is funded by our donors and community supports: GBF also wishes to acknowledge the support of these partners: The Ontario Phragmites Working Group, Severn Sound Environmental Association, Georgian Bay Biosphere, the Sans Souci and Copperhead Association, the Massasauga Provincial Park, Friends of The Massasauga Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park, the Georgian Bay Association, Paragon Marina, South Channel Association, Talpines Property Owner’s Association, the Woods Bay Association, Sans Souci and Copperhead Association, Pointe au Baril Islanders' Association, Twelve Mile Bay Cottage Association, the Manitou Association, the Wah Wah Taysee Association, and the Bayfield-Nares Islanders' Association. Thank you to all groups working on Phragmites in Georgian Bay, including these known to us who also work with us: Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, Blue Mountain Watershed Trust, Georgian Bay Land Trust, and the Nature Conservancy. And the many individual Georgian Bay Forever donors.
2 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Executive Summary Georgian Bay Forever (GBF) has been working with invasive Phragmites along the Eastern shorelines of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron for the past 9 years. Wetland ecosystems are extremely important habitats for foraging, spawning, shelter and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Disturbances such as urban development, agricultural activities and the introduction of invasive species can be significant threats to these sensitive environments. In 2019 an eradication plan was developed for each individual invasive Phragmites site along a large portion of the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay. Individual site plans are crucial for successful eradication because each site differs in size, density, water depth and surrounding ecosystem characteristics. In this report you will see maps and tables developed for each region to display the current status of sites and progress over the years. In 2021 we explored an entirely new area of Georgian Bay to identify invasive Phragmites that we had presumed invaded and monitored species at risk (SAR) with the Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) and MTM Conservation Association and funded by Ganawenim Meshkiki and Habitat Stewardship Protection (Environment and Climate Change Canada) in Matchedash Bay. Matchedash Bay, a provincially significant wetland, is one of the most highly biodiverse wetlands in Georgian Bay and is home to hundreds of migrating birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, species at risk and other organisms. Reminder Invasive Phragmites sites take 2-6 years of annual cutting to become nonviable (and in laymen’s terms not visible) following which they are designated as monitoring/eradicated. The word ‘eradicated’ that GBF uses is with the understanding that these sites do not need any further cutting and transition to a monitoring stage. This involves annually checking the site for a few years to verify the invasive Phragmites are gone. The word ‘controlled’ refers to these sites that have been eradicated or are being monitored, as well as sites that have been treated using the cut to drown method. Left untreated, invasive Phragmites grow into dense monoculture stands, up to 15 ft. high, and spread rapidly threatening biodiversity, habitat, and enjoyment of the shoreline.
3 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Highlights As of 2021, we are seeing nearly 50% eradication across the Township of the Archipelago, Township of Georgian Bay and Tay Township with a plan of 90% eradication by 2025 if funding and support continue at requested levels. With this plan, Phragmites could be so diminished by 2025 that we can expect coastal communities to be well equipped to manage any leftover stands and new stands that may appear. With the additional stands found across the 1,800 hectares of Matchedash Bay, we are at 45% eradication, which is still 5% higher than in 2020, and a total count of 904 stands. v GBF staff mapped a total of 904 invasive Phragmites sites in the summer of 2021 v 198 new stands identified due to an increase in mapping efforts including our newly explored area, Matchedash Bay. v 403 sites of the 904, or 45%, are eradicated v 279 or 31% of sites were cut by GBF staff and volunteers v 682, or 75% of sites are under control (eradicated/monitored and cut) by GBF v ~325 volunteer hours dedicated (following COVID-19 protocols) In 2019 GBF developed a 5-year plan to aim for 90% eradication by 2025 of the original 588 stands mapped. Due to GBFs successful efforts, we have been able to relocate our time and efforts in new areas leading to the increase in number of stands. Thank you to our 2021 Phragbusters Sean Mullin, Jared McNabb, David Grgas-Hastings and Adam Rupik for spending their summer removing invasive Phragmites from Georgian Bay, spreading awareness and educating the community.
4 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 What does this report do? This report highlights the results of work completed by Georgian Bay Forever in the 2021 field season to remove invasive Phragmites. If you have questions about the current report, please contact Project Coordinator Nicole Carpenter at Nicole.email@example.com or 905-880-4945 ext.7. Figure 1: Beautiful Georgian Bay coast.
5 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Overview Table and Map Table 1: Breakdown of invasive Phragmites sites found across the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay in 2021. Region Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Township of the Archipelago 67 1 52 13 65 2 78% 19% 97% Township of Georgian Bay 523 97 267 146 413 110 51% 28% 79% Tay Township 270 59 84 102 186 84 31% 38% 69% Total 860 157 403 261 664 196 47% 30% 77% Matchedash Bay 44 41 0 18 18 26 0% 41% 41% Overall Total 904 198 403 279 682 222 45% 31% 75% Figure 2: Aerial photo of Quarry Island. Photo Credit: The Water Brothers - thewaterbrothers.ca
6 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021
7 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Introduction to invasive Phragmites What is an invasive species? Invasive species are non-native plants or animals that have been introduced to an ecosystem and have the ability to spread and disrupt the native wildlife. They are a threat to the environment and the broader economy. Non-native Phragmites are a significant threat to the Great Lakes along with many other invasive species. Phragmites in Georgian Bay Georgian Bay, Lake Huron is home to some of Canada’s most pristine coastal wetlands. Many organisms depend on these wetlands for life-sustaining activities such as foraging, spawning, shelter and more. Phragmites can be divided up into 2 lineages. The native subspecies, Phragmites australis americanus, and the invasive subspecies, Phragmites australis australis, which are both found in Georgian Bay. We acknowledge that invasive Phragmites is a reed grass that unwilfully travelled from Europe to Canada in the 1800s through human activity and has developed as a significant threat to Georgian Bay’s coastal wetlands. In its natural environment, Phragmites does not pose any threat to other organisms and encounters 140 fellow creatures that live in balance with each other. But, living in North America, the invasive lineage does not have any natural threats or predators which allows it to flourish in an unbalanced way by poisoning our native species that have not evolved to live in harmony with it. Unfortunately, in the Great Lakes coastal ecosystems, invasive Phragmites grows quickly into extremely dense monocultures, outcompeting native vegetation and reducing biodiversity and habitat for native plants and animals. Furthermore, this impairs proper functioning of wetlands which are significant ecosystems that enhance water quality, provide shelter and food for other relatives and sequester carbon helping to counter human caused Global Heating. Identification Invasive Phragmites can be identified by their connecting root system of hollow rhizomes, beige stems and tall green stalks with alternating leaves. The stalks, if wellestablished, can grow up to 15 ft tall. Native Phragmites looks quite similar but does not grow as tall or dense and will co-exist amongst other native species. In late August, invasive Phragmites begin to develop large purple/reddish seed heads which eventually turn beige, unlike the native Phragmites that develop seeds earlier in the season. After seeds disperse in the fall, the stalks die and remain standing throughout the winter. Majority of native plants will fall under the weight of snow, breakdown, contribute nutrients back to the soil and allow space for new vegetation to grow come Spring. The remains of dried out stalks of invasive Phragmites prevent new growth of native plants in the Spring. During the summer, one can identify a stand of invasive Phragmites by the presence of leftover standing stalks and seeds from years previous. To find out more information on identification, visit: Phragmites Identification Tips | Georgian Bay Forever Figure 3: Invasive (left) and native (right) Phragmites. Follow the link to an interactive map of all stands on the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay in 2021: https://arcg.is/4HaDa0
8 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Control Methodology GBF maps the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay in June recording the location, size, density and status of both recurring sites (from years previous) and new sites found. GBF continues to return to sites that have been mapped and cut in previous years in hopes not to see any regrowth. In this case, the stand is put into the monitoring/eradicated category and remains to be checked for years to come. 1. Location: Using a mapping software (i.e., Google Maps), we identify the locations in which invasive Phragmites is present. We record the geographic coordinates, size, density and other notes to help come up with a management plan. 2. Timing: The optimal cutting season is Mid-July to mid-August before seed heads emerge. At this time, we are cutting the plant when it is at its primary growth stage. 3. Equipment and Cutting: We use raspberry cane cutters, long-reach powered hedge trimmers and snippers to cut the Phragmites via the cut-to-drown method (i.e., cutting the stalks below the water level as close to the bottom as possible). o Cut each stalk underwater as close to the sediment as possible o Do not disturb the roots as they are able to fragment and develop new shoots 4. Prioritize: Priority is given to small stands first to ensure early eradication before the stand gets large and dense. It often takes a few years of cutting to completely get rid of a stand of Phragmites therefore we give priority to stands that have been cut previously. Each year, the stand should get smaller, sparser and easier to tackle. 5. Selective Cutting: The selective cutting process means we only remove invasive Phragmites stalks, leaving native vegetation unharmed. If there are seed heads present, they are removed from the stalks and disposed of prior to cutting the plant. 6. Clean-up: We bundle the cut biomass and make sure we don’t leave any viable pieces behind, specifically the roots 7. Disposal: A designated spot near the stand is determined where the cut stalks can dry and decay. It is far enough from the waters edge that rising waters and storm waves will not pull the biomass back into the water. The disposal site is checked the following year to ensure there is no growth at the disposal site. 8. Follow-up: Phragmites is a perennial reed grass meaning it will grow back every year. If left untreated, it will grow back larger and more dense. If treated (cut), the stand will grow back smaller and more sparse, until eventually there is no regrowth. This can take 2-6 years of cutting activities depending on the size of the stand. Eventually native plants will return, and the habitat will be restored. For more information or training on how to remove invasive Phragmites from shorelines in Georgian Bay, contact Project Coordinator Nicole Carpenter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-880-4945 ext. 7. If you are interested in volunteering and becoming a Phragbuster, contact Nicole.email@example.com
9 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Breakdown by Area Tay Township Table 2: Invasive Phragmites sites in Tay Township 2021. Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Tay Township 270 59 84 102 186 84 31% 38% 69% Figure 4: Map of all Phragmites locations in Tay Township 2021. Each point represents a stand of Phragmites.
10 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 In 2021, two local post-secondary students were hired to protect the shorelines of Tay through Phragmites removal activities, educating the public and hosting community cut events. GBF staff mapped a total of 270 sites across 30km of Tay Township’s shorelines on Georgian Bay of which 59 of these were new. 84 of the total sites were not visible to GBF staff, putting these sites in the eradicated or monitoring stage. This year, GBF summer staff and volunteers cut a total of 102 sites. When totalling the number of sites eradicated, monitoring and cut, we see an overall control of 69%, leaving 31% of sites untreated. This year, GBF had not only 2 students dedicated to Tay Township but purchased an additional boat for these students to conduct their work. This significantly increased GBF’s time spent in Tay. As we have seen over the last 3 years, Tay Township coasts are home to many large sites (Table 3). In 2019, GBF did not have a boat in Tay Township and thus had to map and cut in areas accessible by road only. In 2020, GBF was able to conduct their work on the water, explaining the large increase in sites from 2019 to 2020. Summer Phragbusters split their time between Tay Township and Georgian Bay Township. In 2021, 54% (100) of the 185 sites visible were greater than 10m2. Though there is an increase in large sites, we are seeing a great increase in the number of sites not visible (i.e., eradicated). This may be the reason for a decrease in the number of sites under 10m2. This proves that our cut to drown method is working. With each year, we get closer to eradication and re-establishment of native biodiversity, funding pending. Table 3: Progress of invasive Phragmites management in Tay Township since 2019. Table 4: Status of recurring sites (mapped previous to 2021) vs. new sites found in 2021 in Tay Township. Eradicated/Monitored Sites Visible Under 10m2 Greater than 10m2 2021 (270 sites) 84 185 85 100 2020 (214 sites) 32 182 132 82 2019 (155 sites) 0 155 47 108 Recurring Sites New Sites 2021 Total Eradicated/Monitoring 83 n/a 83 Cut 52 47 99 Untreated 77 15 92 Total 212 62 274 Percent Control (Eradicated + Cut) 64% 76% 66% Figure 5: Tay Township Phragbusters Jared (left) and Sean (right) boating through a patch of Phragmites at Calvert Park.
11 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Community Cuts in Tay GBF staff hosted 3 community cuts in Tay of which 150 volunteer hours were donated. 1. Tay Shore Trail – Talpines Community Group 2. Delta Drive Delta Drive received cutting treatment from truxors in 2020 and upon return this summer, very little had grown back along the shoreline. This use of truxors in 2020 was seen as quite successful and the regrowth can now be managed by GBF staff and community members to push this area into eradication. A community cut took place with 3 GBF staff and 10 volunteers each dedicating a half to full day of cutting the regrowth. We removed approximately 500kg of invasive Phragmites from the Delta Drive shoreline. Figure 6: Talpines community group Phragbusting on the Tay Shore Trail. 600kg of Phragmites was cut and disposed of! Figure 7: GBF Phragbuster working hard at the Delta Drive community cut.
12 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 3. Waubaushene Dock/Beach Figure 8: Tay Phragbusters Sean and Jared hosting the Waubaushene Dock Community Cut. Media Attention in Tay Township The community cut hosted at the Waubaushene Dock/Beach area gained some media attention of which the article titled, “‘Phragbusters’ lay siege to Waubaushene’s invasive species” written by Derek Howard was shared by Barrie Today, Orillia Matters, Bay Today, Toronto Star and more. Summer Phragbuster, Jared McNabb, was interviewed and was a great representative for GBF. Over 500 kg of invasive Phragmites was removed. Figure 9: Article written by Derek Howard about the Waubaushene Community Cut hosted by GBF in August 2021.
13 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Figure 10: GBF Phragbuster Jared and members of Tay Township council at the Waubaushene community cut. Photo Credit: The Water Brothers – thewaterbrothers.ca Calvert Park Calvert Park received cutting treatment from truxors in 2020 but unfortunately did not have as much success as Delta Drive shorelines. Though some sites that grew back were smaller, the entire shoreline from Calvert Park south to Crescent Island has become overtaken by invasive Phragmites and is too large, dense and far spread for a couple staff members and/or volunteers to tackle. It is presumed that lower water levels, nutrient availability, soil content and other environmental factors had an impact on the success of the cut to drown method via truxors. A community cut was planned in coordination with GBF and Tay Township to recruit many volunteers to do some cutting at Calvert Park. Unfortunately, we were not able to recruit enough volunteers and the event was cancelled due to a severe weather warning. Some cutting was conducted at a later date by our Phragbusters as seen on the map to the right. Figure 11: Close-up map of the Calvert Park Phragmites locations.
14 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Forest Harbour Cut One of the largest sites in Tay Township was found in a small bay within Forest Harbour near a few cottages. Due to the location and inaccessibility for members of the public, we did not host a community cut. Instead, 5 GBF staff members worked for 3 days straight with the help of a local cottage owner and Bin City to remove this stand. Over 1600 kg of Phragmites was removed. Before Mid-cut Figure 12: Site 158 in Forest Harbour before cutting. Figure 13: Site 158 in Forest Harbour mid-way cut.
15 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Matchedash Bay In 1996, Matchedash Bay Provincial Wildlife Area was designated a Ramsar Site, defining it as a Wetland of International Importance for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources (https://www.ramsar.org). The marshes of Matchedash Bay are the largest and most diverse on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. This year GBF began exploring Matchedash Bay and its tributaries for invasive Phragmites. In previous years, GBF staff had noticed invasive Phragmites growth at the mouth of Matchedash Bay to Georgian Bay in the Waubaushene area along highway 400. Because of this, it was presumed invasive Phragmites could most likely be growing elsewhere in the area. With funding support from Habitat Stewardship Protection (HSP) and the Eastern Georgian Bay Initiative (EGBI as managed by Ganawenim Meshkiki) and partnerships built with the Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA), MTM Conservation Association, GBF mapped a total of 44 invasive Phragmites sites throughout the main Bay proper, the tributaries and surrounding marshes. This being the first year in Matchedash Bay, GBF faced many challenges tackling invasive Phragmites due to the inaccessibility of many sites and uncertainty when identifying sites as native or invasive. Many of the sites are located amongst vast stretches of cattail marshes that are too dense for a boat to reach, and water too deep for staff to walk to. Some sites were only accessible by canoe travel through beaver paths. Figure 14: Map of Matchedash Bay.
16 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Table 5: Breakdown of the 44 invasive Phragmites sites found in Matchedash Bay. Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Matchedash Bay 44 41 0 18 18 26 0% 41% 41% Figure 15: Map of all Phragmites sites in Matchedash Bay (18 cut, 28 native, 26 untreated).
17 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 DNA Sampling Along the North River and Coldwater River there were many sites of uncertainty found. The Phragmites in these locations were large, dense and tall like invasive Phragmites but also displayed a lighter green/yellow colour, red stalks and sparse seed heads similar to the native strain. In discussions with SSEA and MTM Conservation Association, there was still uncertainty in the identification of these sites. In the fall of 2021, GBF’s Project Coordinator collected 7 samples and sent them to the Wendell Lab at Oakland University for analysis (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jglr.2021.08.002). 6 out of 7 of these samples were identified as the native lineage, Phragmites australis americanus. With these results, we are able to better plan for the 2022 season, knowing which sites to cut and which to leave. Our results have led us to determined that Matchedash Bay is home to a total of 28 native stands of Phragmites in addition to the 44 invasive stands. Community Cuts In August, GBF worked with MTM Conservation Association to cut 3 sites found in the Beaver Pond, also known as Heron Pond, accessible only by foot off of Quarry Road. Though these sites were not overly dense, the stalks found growing here were some of the tallest we have seen across the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay. After cutting these sites we found 2 others located on the other side of the pond that we aim to cut in 2022. Figure 16: Nicole taking samples for DNA testing on the North River. Results showed this as native Phragmites. Figure 17: GBF and MTM staff and volunteers proud of their long, hard day Phragbusting at Heron Pond!
18 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Township of Georgian Bay For the purposes of this report, the Township of Georgian Bay has been broken down into 8 regions or communities: Wah Wah Taysee and 12 Mile Bay, Go Home Bay, Cognashene, Honey Harbour, Quarry Island, Present Island, Wolverine Beach to Macey’s Bay and Severn Sound to Port Severn. A total of 523 invasive Phragmites stands were mapped along these 8 regions and by the end of the 2021, GBF and community volunteers have nearly 80% of the Township of Georgian Bay under control. With this success, more focus can be put on providing that 20% with treatment. This year, GBF Phragbusters and volunteers cut 146 sites, put 267 in the monitoring/eradicated stage and found 97 new sites across the Township of Georgian Bay. Figure 18: Map of all Phragmites stands along Georgian Bay’s coasts of the Township of Georgian Bay in 2021.
19 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Table 6: Breakdown of the Township of Georgian Bay invasive Phragmites sites by region. Region Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Wah Wah/ 12 Mile 17 0 17 0 17 0 100% 0 100% Go Home 4 0 4 0 4 0 100% 0 100% Cognashene 32 1 27 5 32 0 84% 16% 100% Honey Harbour 217 19 134 76 210 7 62% 35% 97% Present Island 9 0 9 0 9 0 100% 0 100% Quarry Island 42 12 3 14 17 25 7% 33% 40% Wolverine Beach/ Macey's Bay 60 6 39 19 58 2 65% 32% 97% Severn Sound/Port Severn 142 59 34 32 66 76 24% 23% 47% TOTAL 523 97 267 146 413 110 51% 28% 79%
20 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Wah Wah Taysee/12 Mile Bay and Go Home Bay Table 7: Status of the 21 sites in Wah Wah Taysee, 12 Mile Bay and Go Home Bay. Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Wah Wah/ 12 Mile 17 0 17 0 17 0 100 0 100 Go Home 4 0 4 0 4 0 100 0 100 21 sites were monitored in Wah Wah Taysee, 12-mile Bay and Go Home Bay by dedicated community members this year. We are seeing 100% control in these areas, and they will continue to be monitored by the community next summer. There are some locations in proximity to 12 Mile Bay that are located on Indigenous land or park land and thus are to be monitored by indigenous people, the federal government or Ontario Parks staff, or managed by Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Since there is little to no growth, it is very important to continue monitoring these areas next year to ensure 100% eradication. Figure 19: Map of Wah Wah Taysee, 12 Mile Bay and Go Home Bay invasive Phragmites sites.
21 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Cognashene Table 8: Status of the 32 invasive Phragmites sites in Cognashene. For a third in year in a row, Cognashene received 100% control, only needing 5 out of 32 sites to be cut. GBF did find 1 new site, but it was very small and was cut immediately. 27 sites are in the monitoring/eradicated stage. It will be important to continue to monitor Cognashene next year and control small stands, if any, to prevent further growth or spread. Thank you to the Cognashene Cottage Association for their continued support in this program, and leadership efforts in the community by Jack Giroux and Sandy Thompson. Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Cognashene 32 1 27 5 32 0 84 16 100 Figure 20: Map of Cognashene sites 2021.
22 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Figure 21: Site 17 in Cognashene before cutting. Figure 22: Site 17 in Cognashene after cutting.
23 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Honey Harbour Table 9: Status of the 217 sites in Honey Harbour. Honey Harbour has 217 sites that have been mapped and managed over the years. Similar to Cognashene, Honey Harbour resembles a success story of hundreds of hours from GBF staff and community volunteers to eradicate Phragmites. 62% of the sites were not visible this year and thus are in the monitoring/eradicated stage. GBF staff and volunteers still had to cut 76 sites, or 35%, throughout Honey Harbour and only left 7 untreated. Though this may seem like a lot of sites to still have to control, they were quite small and easily manageable. Only 5 sites were large and dense Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Honey Harbour 217 19 134 76 210 7 62 35 97 Figure 23: Map of all sites in Honey Harbour in 2021.
24 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 (20m2), such as site 14 seen in figure 22 and 23. The last 7 sites were only left untreated due to inaccessibility from construction and water levels too low for the Baykeeper to reach. In addition, a few sites GBF has managed are in-land such as a site on Buck Lake which has been controlled previously but was not checked this year. GBF will be working with the Nature Conservancy to share knowledge of land-based sites such as the one on Buck Lake and possibly passover the responsibility. In 2022, GBF is committed to our plans and efforts in Honey Harbour and will continue our work in order to bring this area closer to our goal of 90% eradication by 2025. Thank you to the Honey Harbour Association, leadership efforts in the community by Bonnie Blanchard, and the volunteers! Figure 24: Site 14 in Honey Harbour before cutting. Figure 25: Site 14 in Honey Harbour after cutting. Present Island Table 10: Status of all 9 sites on Present Island. Present Island has 9 sites that we did not see any regrowth for the second year in a row. GBF will continue to monitor Present Island in 2022 to ensure there is no more Phragmites growing. Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Present Island 9 0 9 0 9 0 100 0 100
25 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Figure 26: Map of invasive Phragmites sites on Present Island in 2021. Quarry Island Table 11: Status of the 42 sites on Quarry Island. In September of 2021, truxors were brought to the northeast shoreline of Quarry Island to remove some of the invasive Phragmites that have begun to completely take over the coastline rapidly. We contracted the Invasive Phragmites Control Center (IPCC) for 2 days of work, of which we had 1 truxor that removed 2 extremely large, dense patches. As seen in some of the images below, there is still quite a bit of treatment that needs to be done at Quarry Island next year. We hope to have the IPCC come once again to deploy their truxors. Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Quarry Island 42 12 3 14 17 25 7 33 40 Figure 27: IPCC truxor removing a large stand of Phragmites at Quarry Island.
26 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Figure 28: Map of Quarry Island sites 2021. Quarry Island Community Cut Prior to the truxors, GBF hosted a community cut at Quarry Island that brought volunteers from the local area to engage in cutting activities and learn more about invasive Phragmites management. GBF staff and volunteers spent an entire day around Quarry Island cutting 4 large stands. Figure 29: GBF and volunteers Phragbusting at Quarry Island.
27 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Wolverine Beach to Macey’s Bay Table 12: Status of the 60 sites along Wolverine Beach and Macey's Bay. The coastline from Wolverine Beach south to Macey’s Bay is currently at 97% control and 65% is eradicated. 19 sites, or 32%, were cut this year. In this region, there are some sites found on GBINP land represented by the grey points. These sites were not managed this year. Looking into 2022, GBF and Parks Canada (GBINP) will be collaborating to organize group cuts to remove these sites before they get too large. See page 31 for an update on GBINP invasive Phragmites. Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Wolverine Beach/ Macey's Bay 60 6 39 19 58 2 65% 32% 97% Figure 30: Map of Wolverine Beach and Macey's Bay sites in 2021. This map also includes some of GBINP sites mapped by GBF in 2021, but not controlled.
28 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Severn Sound/Port Severn As in 2020, Severn Sound remains a focus area to allocate more time and effort due to the success GBF has had in other regions of Georgian Bay Township. GBF staff and volunteers were able to control almost 50% of sites in Severn Sound. 59 new sites were mapped putting us at a total of 142 invasive Phragmites stands in the Port Severn to Severn Sound area. A large majority of these sites were found on the southwest side of Green Island growing amongst vast cattail wetlands and becoming quite large. A community cut was hosted by GBF Phragbusters at Green Island with a few volunteers from a local cottaging family. Table 13: Status of the 142 sites in Severn Sound and Port Severn. Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control Severn Sound/Port Severn 142 59 34 32 66 76 24 23 47 Figure 31: Map of Severn Sound and Port Severn sites 2021.
29 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Township of the Archipelago Table 14: Status of all 67 sites in the Township of the Archipelago, including Massasauga Provincial Park in 2021. In 2021, the Township of the Archipelago (ToA) received 97% control on the 67 sites mapped of which only 1 new stand was found in Massasauga Provincial Park, and it was cut by Ontario Parks staff. In the past, Massasauga Provincial Park had 27 active sites but as of 2021 Ontario Parks staff have managed to put 25 in the eradicated or monitoring stage and remove 2 stands. Sites in Woods Bay, South Channel, Pointe au Baril and Manitou are all in the monitoring or eradicated stage and are being successfully managed by community members. Bayfield Nares has had volunteers like Anne Stewart and Andrew Kolody which have kept watch over Phragmites in their area for years. And so many that just do it on their own – we salute you! Total sites New Sites # of sites Eradicated/ Monitored # of sites Cut # of sites Controlled (Eradicated/ Monitored + Cut) # of sites Untreated % Eradicated/ Monitored % Cut % Control ToA 67 1 52 13 65 2 78% 19% 97% Figure 32: Map of the Township of the Archipelago invasive Phragmites sites 2021.
30 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Sans Souci and Copperhead, and the South Channel Katherine has been monitoring 36 sites over the years, and 22 are not present anymore! And it’s probably more than that. It has been challenging for Katherine to organize monitoring as COVID restrictions made it difficult for her to be in Georgian Bay for the last 2 summers. How has she helped accomplish this? Diligent effort over a lot of years. In 2018 and 2019, she worked with GBF (Heather Sargeant), the Woods Bay Association and Friends of Massasauga Park (Sue McPhedran), the South Channel (Peter Adams) to help Massasauga Park devise a plan and get resources to tackle sites using data accumulated from a Georgian Bay Land Trust grant. These combined efforts led to 10 of the 36 sites mentioned here being eradiated, as well as others in the park which you will read about later. She has also diligently managed other sites over the years with wonderful volunteers (Monique, Luc, Greg, Thomas, Brain, Beth, Peter, Matt, Madi, Teresa, Tom and others). This year, even with COVID limiting her time in the Bay, Katherine was able to do 2 cuts with Thomas Dancy. Hopefully, things are better next year and the 7 or so other sites on private property or crown land can get looked at. Thank you to Sans Souci and all the volunteers, and Katherine, Madi Ledsham, Tom Denune, Teresa Long, and Thomas Dancy for their known work this year in challenging conditions! A lot of progress made. And then there is Peter Adams in the South Channel. He has been leading and working with his community for years to eradicate invasive Phragmites, and with GBF in the 2018/2019 successful initiative to help Massasauga Park put together a plan and resources to manage Park coastal Phragmites (see below). Peter reported this year – that of the 11 sites he monitors – all of them were not appearing – they were gone! Thank you to Peter Adams and all the volunteers in the South Channel for their amazing work. Katherine Denune and Thomas Dancy tackle Phragmites in 2021 in Sans Souci Phragmites at Tranquility Island. Getting it early matters.
31 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Moon River Heather Sargeant (GBF Communications Director and Woods Bay Association Director) has been diligently tackling Phragmites in Woods Bay and area over the years with amazing volunteers. A special shout out goes out to Sue McPhedran who in 2018/2019 was part of the GBF led coalition to successfully help the Park get resources to tackle Phragmites over the years. This year’s crew included many long-time Phragbusters : Urs Villager, Paul Sine, Cadi Reece, and Heather Sargeant. We missed our young crew – as COVID put a damper on trying to put too many events and crews together. And – there is less work ! But the work left is still physically demanding. There were also scary and challenging conditions – extreme heat, a sudden heavy downpour with lightning, and heavy underwater brush. But we made it through! The Moon River phragbusters are happy to report There are 10 sites in the coastal Woods Bay area. ü 6 sites gone and being monitored (2 by Parks). Thx past helpers. ü 3 sites cut by the woods Bay Phagbusting crew in 2020 (the remaining 1 looked like it has been partially cut by owner) Some scenes Phragbusting in Woods Bay.
32 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Point au Baril Islander’s Association (PaBIA) – Marine Patrol GBF joined Point au Baril’s Marine Patrol in July to conduct an invasive Phragmites refresher workshop with returning Marine Patrol students who have done a great job in managing Phragmites in Point au Baril. In August, GBF Project Coordinator and 2 summer staff returned to Point au Baril for a day in the field and to better understand the area. Point au Baril has 7 sites in the eradicated or monitoring stage and only 3 very small sites that needed to be cut this year by the Marine Patrol. It will be crucial to continue to monitor the area next year, but we don’t expect to see any significant re-growth. The Point au Baril sites are included in our total Township of the Archipelago count. Figure 33: GBF Phragbusters Sean and Jared joining the Point au Baril Marine Patrol, Tom and Chris. Massasauga Provincial Park The following update was provided from the Phragmites Australis 2021 written report by Ethan Priaulx and Silos Betts from Massasauga Provincial Park: The majority of the sites in Massasauga Provincial Park have been previously controlled and there has been very little regrowth in the past. This season, staff monitored each of these sites and found some sites contained shoots decaying below the surface while others had grown new shoots. Two sites were in need of removal this summer using the cut to
33 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 drown method. One was found in Port Rawson Bay near a campsite where there had been Phragmites found before. It consisted of two small patches that were easily removed. A new site was found in Lough Bay and was cut and disposed of in August. The Massasauga Provincial Park sites are included in our total Township of the Archipelago count. Collaborative Georgian Bay Islands National Park (GBINP) – Beausoleil Island Written by: Laura Baldwick, Project Coordinator (Invasive Species Management) Georgian Bay Islands National Park launched the Impede the Reed project in 2019 to tackle the invasive plant, Phragmites. This project, funded through the Parks Canada Conservation and Restoration Fund, is focused primarily on Beausoleil Island. Similar to the Georgian Bay Forever team, Park staff complete annual mapping of Phragmites populations, physical removal of Phragmites stalks and educating park visitors about the management and prevention of invasive species. In July 2021, the Park hired the Invasive Phragmites Control Centre to cut and remove Phragmites on the south-eastern side of Beausoleil Island. The amphibious cutting machines known as Truxors had their abilities tested in the dense, monoculture stands but they were able to do a great job removing some of the patches. For the remainder of the season, Park staff focused removal efforts on smaller, more manageable stands that could be controlled by hand tools and trimmers. The community may have noticed Park staff working in Little Dog Channel. The team mapped over 300 sites of Phragmites and were able to control over 90 sites using the Truxors, the cut to drown method or spading techniques. These sites ranged from large, dense one-hectare sized patches to individual stems isolated on the shoreline. There is lots of work to still happen in the coming years and the Park looks forward to the opportunity to work more with Georgian Bay Forever and the local community. Figure 34: IPCC Truxors working to cut Phragmites from Beausoleil Island (GBINP).
34 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Figure 35: Aerial photo of Beausoleil Island shorelines infested with invasive Phragmites. Photo credits: The Water Brothers - thewaterbrothers.ca. Georgian Bay Land Trust (GBLT) GBF joined the GBLT this summer on Giant’s Tomb Island in Georgian Bay to check on an inland site that has been cut in previous years. In the past this site was very large, so we investigated the location thoroughly and we saw very little regrowth only having to remove a few stalks. One of GBF’s Phragbusters also assisted the GBLT at a site in King Bay utilizing our Stihl gas powered cutters. GBLT also participated in GBF’s and the Township of The Archipelago webinar for municipalities and First Nations on improving road management of invasive Phragmites. Beausoleil First Nation (BFN) In 2020, GBF conducted a presentation to BFN about invasive Phragmites identification and management. This year GBF had the opportunity to join a Climate Change Committee meeting hosted by BFN to further discuss invasive Phragmites on Christian Island. With support from BFN and funding from the Green Shovels Collaborative, GBF will be working, over the winter 2021/2022, closely with BFN to develop a management plan for invasive Phragmites removal on Christian Island. The plan, which will be implemented in 2022, will involve mapping to understand the issue, obtain the proper equipment for removal activities, conduct training workshops, recruit volunteers, educate the community and
35 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 incorporate the plan into BFN Education Department’s co-op program. This summer, GBF’s project coordinator visited Christian Island twice to identify some stands, get to know the area and meet with members of the Education Department. Figure 36: Largest site of invasive Phragmites found on Christian Island, 2021 in close proximity to Jerry’s Lake. Federation of Ontario Cottager’s Association (FOCA) Through funding provided from Green Shovels to FOCA, 2 cottage associations reached out to GBF to learn about invasive Phragmites management. GBF’s Project Coordinator visited Parry Island and Bass Lake to educate members on identification, removal, disposal, and management techniques. Educational material was also provided to the associations to share with cottagers in their area. GBF did not investigate Parry Island during this visit, but one large stand was found on Rose Point Rd in close proximity to the bridge onto Parry Island. The cottage association collaborates with the Wasauksing First Nation to spread awareness and get approval for removal. In addition, one of GBF’s education outreach coordinators (summer Phragbuster) is a cottager on the island and did some investigation to identify Phragmites. GBF’s staff identified one stand on Wawbawzee Rd. Parry Island will continue to be monitored and these sites will be checked again next year. GBF investigated the entire shoreline of Bass Lake and did not spot any invasive Phragmites aside from one site growing up from the shoreline on private property in a pond that flows out to the lake. We left a brochure with some educational material and contact information. There is further growth in roadside ditches part of the Bass Lake watershed, including the 14th Line boat launch, posing a potential risk for future establishment in the lake.
36 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Association (NVCA) Collingwood Since 2014, the NVCA has organized the “Fight the Phrag” community effort in Collingwood to conduct Phragmites removal. In 2021, the project continued for a 7th year with funding support from GBF and in-kind support from other local groups and municipalities. From 2014-2021, 445 volunteers have contributed over 2500 hours to help remove over 16 ,000 kg of invasive Phragmites from Collingwood’s shorelines. The NVCA used gas-powered hedge-trimmers on large monoculture stands and shears/clippers for manual removal of sparse stands growing amongst native vegetation. The main focus of the 2021 field season was at Rupert’s Landing, Highway 26, Black Ash Creek, The Cove and Lighthouse Point. The NVCA cut approximately 1300m2 of Phragmites weighing at a total of 1190 kg. In addition, 19 volunteers from the community got involved dedicating a total of 91 hours over the season. A special shout out by GBF to Stella Juhasz - a donor and volunteer for Georgian Bay Forever and the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust (great Phragbuster helpers and leaders in Collingwood). Stella has been very active and passionate leader and worker in eradicating invasive Phragmites. Ministryof Transportation– Progress but still gaps Part of protecting management investments made is implementing or improved road management by all stakeholders. GBF and its partners have made many efforts on progressively increasing MTO participation over the years. 2021 efforts included “Invasive Phragmites Road Management: A Webinar for Municipalities and First Nations in the Georgian Bay Area.” – hosted by GBF and Township of the Archipelago (ToA), which included Dr. J. Gilbert, Invasive Phragmites Control Centre, speaking about techniques, but also involved an update by MTO (efforts in 2020 for some areas in the general Georgian Bay/Muskoka area, and their plan in 2021), and important location information from the Georgian Bay Land Trust. To watch the webinar, visit: Part 1: https://youtu.be/NtpUK_0BGV8 and Part 2: https:// youtu.be/rQfqddBrpJk. Within the webinar, MTO noted what they did in 2019, 2020 and planned to in 2021 (which need to be confirmed). Essentially, they noted that they would update the Phragmites inventory where needed and retreat any 2020 areas as required and do some expansion. There is good progress, but it is hard to understand whether they are getting to 5% of the problem or 95% of the problem (eg. what about secondary highways and where are these roads?). Transparency is an issue, and you will also note communication to local stakeholders continues to be much less than needed as you will notice from the responses to poll questions to municipal and First Nations attendees (noted below).
37 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 MTO Continued. Their plan for 2021 (needs confirmation of what was accomplished) Poll results from Municipal/First Nations Roads Webinar – Attendance and Questions: -Shows much more funding and directed/trained resources need to be allocated to municipalities to more on their roads, and they are looking for much better communication from MTO ü Reach results of webinar - 118 registrants (rough break down 54 municipalities out of a possible 82, 4 First Nations, 8 organizations). ü Intention results - Learning= 42% said they learned a lot, 52% said they learned some new info, only 3% (1 person) said they did not learn anything new but already did road Phragmites management, and 1 person said that they would not act ü Within webinar - provided suggested resolutions for municipalities to help improve management action of this invasive. Aside from asking for execution in the webinar, our partner, the ToA sent the resolutions to every municipality in Ontario. ü Road Management: According to the in-webinar polls, 89% know there is invasive Phragmites on the roads (11% don’t know), but only 40% have a road management plan in place. ü Question: Do you know how to manage invasive Phragmites on the roads? Or know where to go for more info. o Answer: 40% - Yes; 46% -More comfortable, but need more info; 14% - No ü Question: Do you know who to reach out to coordinate Phragmites management in areas where the province and your roads might overlap? o Answer: 66% - Yes; 34% - No ü Would it be helpful to have MTO representation at these meetings? o Answer: 98% - Yes; 2% - No Georgian Bay Forever and its partners will continue to push when and where possible for improving management on roads because they are a spread vector to coasts.
38 Georgian Bay Forever Phragmites Report 2021 Conclusion 2021 marks the 9th year of Georgian Bay Forever’s efforts in invasive Phragmites management on the eastern shores of Georgian Bay. Due to our generous funders, dedicated staff and volunteers from the community, GBF has been incredibly successful and thus able to start relocating efforts into regions of Georgian Bay that were never focused much on before. Because of this, we are seeing a large increase in the number of total sites mapped this year, but what is more significant is the increase in number of sites in the monitoring or eradicated stage. In 2020, approximately 39% of stands from the Township of Tay, Township of Georgian Bay and the Township of the Archipelago were monitored/eradicated. On these same shorelines, 50% of stands are monitoring/eradicated as of 2021. With the new addition of Matchedash Bay and its 44 stands, we are at a total of 45% monitored/eradicated. v Total of 904 invasive Phragmites sites in the summer of 2021 v 198 new stands identified v 403 sites, or 45% are eradicated v 279 or 31% of sites cut by GBF staff, volunteers, Ontario Parks and PaBIA Marine Patrol v 682, or 75% of sites are under control (eradicated/monitored and cut) by GBF v ~325 volunteer hours dedicated (following COVID-19 protocols) Thank you GBF summer staff: Sean M., Jared M., David G-H., and Adam R., for all your hard work! Further thanks to all the communities that have supported Georgian Bay Forever initiatives, the volunteers that spent 325 hours removing invasive Phragmites from Georgian Bay and to our donors and funders who make it all possible. Follow the link to an interactive map of all stands on the eastern shoreline of Georgian Bay in 2021: https://arcg.is/4HaDa0 Georgian Bay Forever is a registered Canadian charity - #89531 1066 RR0001 that works with the Great Lakes Basin Conservancy in the United States. Georgian Bay Forever funds and supports scientific research and education that protects and enhances the waters of Georgian Bay, as part of the Great Lakes. Please donate today to support projects like coastal invasive Phragmites removal, and so many other important projects that protect water quality and aquatic ecosystems Donate at www.gbg.org/donate