July 2016. With more than 8,000 km of shoreline, Georgian Bay is home to some of the Canada's most pristine coastal wetlands. Many creatures and organisms depend on these wetlands for life-sustaining activities like food and foraging, nurseries, spawning, shade, water treatment and shelter. This tenacious invasive plant, Phragmites australis subsp australis, grows quickly and densely into moncultures that threaten to reduce plant biodiversity, decrease habitat for endangered species, and damage the proper functioning of Georgian Bay's coastal wetlands.
Thank you to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) for helping to control this invasive by attacking it on some important highways leading right up to Georgian Bay, and other important beautiful areas in Ontario. Highways are spread vectors of this invasive plant that connect with municipal roads that connect right to the places we all love. It is important that we all work together to stop this plant.
Georgian Bay Forever is thankful for the support of the RBC Blue Water Project to help eradicate invasive Phragmites from Collingwood's provincially significant coastal wetlands. The Breathing New Life to Collingwood Beaches initiative is focused on reducing invasive Phragmites which threatens biodiversity, habitat for threatened species, and wetland functionality. The RBC Blue Water Project helps protect the world’s most precious natural resource: fresh water. Since 2007, RBC has pledged nearly C$44 million to more than 740 charitable organizations worldwide that protect watersheds and promote access to clean drinking water, with an additional $8.8 million pledged to universities for water programs.
RBC has just released an important 2016 Canadian Water Attitudes Study , that reinforces the need to protect water. Please read the highlights of this report and about Breathing New Life to Collingwood Beaches.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you to Mr. Howell, Dr. Rooney and the University of Waterloo team for their work and helping to educate us.
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.
Certain fish populations have been suffering in Georgian Bay due to over-fishing, water flow manipulation in spawning areas, dam constructions, climate change, pollution and waves of invasive species. Here are some indicators of the collapse of certain species:
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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!
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.
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.