Chemical Control of Invasive Phragmites and the Seedbank

GBF attended a Ontario Phragmites Working Group (OPWG) conference where we were introduced to Graham MBJ Howell, M.Sc. Candidate , at the University of Waterloo. Mr. Howell agreed to provide us this summary of the research he is conducting under the guidance of Dr. R. C. Rooney, . Thank you to Mr. Howell, Dr. Rooney and the University of Waterloo team for their work and helping to educate us.

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Asian Carp – A Chicago Area Waterways Advisory Committee Update

GBF talked to David A. Ullrich, the Executive Director of the Great Lakes St.Lawrence Cities Initiative for an update on the activities of the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) Advisory Committee, whose members have met since 2014. The Committee includes representatives from 30 public and private stakeholders that benefit from and have responsibilities related to the CAWS, as well as regional stakeholder groups representing commercial, recreational, and environmental interests. Thank you to Mr. Ullrich for updating us on the work of The Committee, and providing this summary.

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5 things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint

5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint

At Georgian Bay Forever, we believe explaining, identifying cause and helping to manage solutions to mitigate climate change are critical for the future of Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes. But as individuals, climate change impacts and being able to help can seem overwhelming and hard to figure out.

Some of you have asked - what can we do? The good news is you can do something everyday, and influence others by your example!

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On World Wetlands Day, treasure Georgian Bay’s wetlands

Most wetlands in the Great Lakes have already been lost or degraded due to human disturbance. More than 50% of wetlands in Lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario have been negatively affected. But in Lakes Superior and Huron, including Georgian Bay, over 70% have been minimally impacted.

With more than 8,000 km of shoreline on The Bay and 3,700 aquatic marshes in Eastern and Northern Georgian Bay alone, these areas provide high quality habitat for fish, amphibians and reptiles, insects, birds, waterfowl, a variety of other land-based wildlife, as well as numerous in-water and coastal plant species.

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Hockey weekends and the Nottawasaga River

Like many of you, I spend a fair amount of time in hockey rinks with other parents watching our little ones experience the ecstasy and agony of one of the best sports in the world. Last weekend, I was at a hockey tournament in the Nottawasaga area.

Sadly, our team didn’t fare too well on the ice, but did happily enjoy being together and having fun. It did give me the opportunity to see the Nottawasaga River, and an excuse to link two great passions – hockey and learning about water that feeds Georgian Bay.



The Nottawasaga river starts at the Orangeville reservoir and ends at the town of Wasaga Beach where it flows into Nottawasaga Bay, part of Georgian Bay . The water journeys and meanders through Dufferin County, the Niagara escarpment, and the amazing Minesing wetlands, which Ontario has designated as an ” Area of Natural and Scientific Interest”.  According to “Friends of Minesing Wetlands”,  over 221 bird species have been sighted in these wetlands; while 135 of these species use these wetlands as nesting grounds. Home to hundreds of plant species, the wetlands are composed of swamps,fens, bogs, and marshes that link and connect and ultimately act as a giant sponge during spring thaw; that let-offs a constant flow of water into the Nottawasaga River in the summer.



Reading up on such important wetland, reminded me to keep vigilant about mapping, reporting and controlling invasive Phragmites – which is a fast spreading reed that can grow into dense monostands that reduce habitat for birds and other species and threaten native plant biodiversity. I was glad I didn’t see any of the dead stalks in the quick views of the river from the road – however, I certainly saw this plant along the highways going up. Last summer, GBF and 16 communities worked on removing over 8000 kilograms of this plant and we will be back at it again this summer. The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority was a great partner in helping remove Phragmites from the coastal areas in Collingwood, and appeared with our GBF’s David Sweetnam in this Penny Skelton show to discuss the project.

If you want to help Georgian Bay wetlands, learn more about the Phragmites workshops Georgian Bay Forever is hosting this April.

Picture of Winter Phragmites

I left Nottawasaga with some beautiful winter pictures of the river, and wondering whether it was usually more frozen. On returning back to the city, it was great to see that our backyard rink, which we had not been able to enjoy at all in December,  had frozen over finally for some more practice fun time. We’ll get them next year!

a Picture of outdoor hockey rinks

If you are interested in writing about Georgian Bay with a connection to the water, please contact me, Heather Sargeant – the Communications Director. We want to create more posts that share your information about Georgian Bay!


Sources Used in this Post:



Climate Change Part 2 – NASA determines wetlands impact from space

Half the worlds wetlands have been lost since 1900 ( UN) , mostly due to human disturbance. What is not known is the impact of lowering water levels due to climate change.
While water levels in Georgian Bay fluctuate for a variety of reasons, the long-term trend (30 to 40 years) is that Lake Huron-Michigan water level averages will continue to decline largely in response to climate change, with probabilities of extreme lows and possibilities of short-term highs.

Lowered water levels can strand and destroy areas of wetland. GBF wanted to know the impact to the relatively pristine wetlands of Georgian Bay that play such a critical role in its health.

In 2014 and 2015, Georgian Bay Forever and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative participated in collaborative work with the NASA-DEVELOP program and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to map wetland change in the Georgian Bay area.

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A view from the Paris climate talks

Written by Jonathan Scott. Jonathan Scott is a law student and writer living in the United Kingdom.

It’s Friday evening, midway through the COP21 Climate Change Conference, and there’s an event for the young activists assembled to pressure their governments into action. It’s a spoken word night in an extraordinary location.

The old Gare Ornano in the 18th arrondissement opened in 1869, closed in 1934 and has been the site of La Recyclerie, an urban farm and vegan café, since 2014. Picture lots of exposed beams and a loft overlooking the main, cafeteria-style hall, with stations to scrap your food waste into the composter and no plastic allowed. There’s a queue outside, filled with Australian, Dutch and American activists arriving late. A man tries to sell fruit and beads without much luck. (I didn’t realize it that evening, but the garden outside is built in the old, unused train tracks running into the converted station, part of a network of reclaimed train corridors throughout Paris.) Read More

Water quality at risk with climate change – Part 1

Climate change is all around us and certainly in the news with the Climate Change talks in Paris. Climate change is arguably the biggest and most challenging threat to the Great lakes.

Spring thaw of Georgian Bay

Most of the last century’s warmest years in the region all occurred in the last decade. (Read here to understand weather like El Nino vs. climate) The long term climate trend is showing that the region, like the world is heating up more rapidly then anytime in history despite recent short-term cold winter variations.

Water temperatures, water levels and water quality are linked

With this warming trend comes a variety of other effects: warmer water and air temperatures, earlier springs and later falls, less rain and snowfall, more protracted drought-like conditions, flashier storms, longer ice-free periods, and more evaporation and lower water levels.

Another effect that scientists are studying on northern lakes is longer stratification periods…

What is stratification?
Northern lakes have a kind of circulation from high to low depths that is related to winter freezing and heating of the lake. When the top layer of the lake is almost frozen, this layer sinks down. This sinking layer brings oxygen to lower depths and pushes nutrients up (*Cheryl Katz,    As the Lake heats up, the surface breaks into different layers that prevent the oxygen from intermingling into the deeper and cool depths below.  This layering from the heating of the water is called stratification. As this process intensifies, it brings these risks:

  • Risk to ecosystems: A longer stratification period due to longer summers and less cold winter temperatures, creates a bigger and longer low oxygen area of the lake that is unfit for many living things.
  • Risk to water quality: It also increases conditions in which cyanobacteria can thrive, which can lead to toxic harmful algae blooms.


That means that your drinking water is also at risk. In August 2014, half a million Toledo residents lost their drinking water because of toxins in their water system from blue-green algae. Lake Erie experienced its largest ever toxic algae bloom this year which fortunately was pushed off shore away from their municipal water system intakes.

At Georgian Bay Forever, we are working on projects that help monitor and standardize water quality measures, and helping to support research into the causes of algal blooms in order to effectively reduce risk in the future.


Part 2, coming soon,  will examine how water levels effect water quality.


Sources used in this post:

*Katz, Cheryl. “On Thin Ice: Big Northern Lakes Are Being Rapidly Transformed.” Yale Environment360. Retrieved December 1st at