Invasive plant found on local lakes
By Robert Mackenzie
Published Aug. 22, 2017
Phragmites, an invasive plant species, has spread to three locations on Eagle and Moose Lakes, according to a local study.
Invasive phragmites is a tall wetland grass that crowds out native plants, vegetation and species while providing little to no food or shelter for wildlife. Non-native forms of the plant can grow in dense bunches of up to 200 stems per square metre.
Recently, with help from the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations and Canadian Wildlife Service, the Eagle Moose Lake Property Owners Association conducted a shoreline study that found one case of phragmites on Eagle Lake and two on neighbouring Moose Lake. In total, there have been 19 reported cases of phragmites in Haliburton County according to EDDMapS, a web-based mapping system documenting invasive species distribution from the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
Kate Powell, a spokesperson for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters’ Invading Species Awareness Program, says phragmites is dangerous to ecosystems and lake health because it decreases biodiversity.
According to Powell, “Learning how to identify phragmites is the No. 1 most important thing ... because you can report it and early detection and rapid response can take place.”
Removing phragmites is no easy task. OFAH’s Invading Species Awareness Program can advise on removal methods if called, which can range from mowing to compressing to controlled burns. One of the more common forms of removal, according to Powell, is cutting below the water surface as close to the sediment as possible. While it can be effective, even this process normally takes a few of years of repeating and managing before the phragmites are removed.
Phragmites spreads through its seeds – which can be transported by wind, animals and human introduction – and by rhizomes, which can spread underground. Phragmites grows commonly in disturbed wetland areas, from roadsides to swamps to streams, ponds and lakes.
Powell says that a disturbed shoreline can provide an empty nest for phragmites to grow, so maintaining a natural shoreline can reduce the risk of the plant growing along property owners’ waterfronts.
“It helps to have that competition [of a natural shoreline] in place. Phragmites is aggressive in that it grows really quickly,” she said. “Having a disturbed environment gives the phragmites an upper hand.”
If you see a case of what you believe to be phragmites, you can call the invasive species hotline at 1-800-563-7711. People can also take pictures, create their own account with EDDmapS and submit a report of the invasive species to the website. Powell and the Invading Species Awareness Program review every Ontario submission to the map.