Invasive Species Program

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Invasive phragmites being removed from Tiffin Pond in Midland.

Invasive Species

Invasive Species are plants, wildlife, invertebrates, and microorganisms that have spread out of their historical distribution AND threaten the environment, the economy, and society (including human health). In Ontario, invasive species are estimated to cost $3.6 billion per year based on their impacts to forestry, agriculture, fisheries, healthcare, tourism and recreation. There have been over 50 invasive species identified in Midland, with some species posing a significant threat to our environment and communities, including but not limited to:

  • Gypsy Moth
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Zebra Mussels
  • Wild Parsnip
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Eurasian Water-Milfoil

SSEA’s Role

The Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) is a joint municipal service board (under the Municipal Act section 202) that provides environmental services to local municipalities in order to sustain environmental quality and ensure protection through stewardship of the Severn Sound watershed. The SSEA partners with and supports the Town of Midland to develop and deliver cost-effective environmental programs and projects to benefit the community. One of the services that SSEA provides is an Invasive Species Program to help prevent, identify, monitor, and manage invasive species in the Town of Midland and their other partner municipalities. SSEA’s Invasive Species Program works to:

  • Establish monitoring & management programs and assess the regional impact
  • Collaborate with local, provincial & national organizations
  • Educate municipal representatives & residents
  • Empower community members to take action, provide guidance, & coordinate regional management efforts

Resources

Invasive Species

Invasive Species are plants, wildlife, invertebrates, and microorganisms that have spread out of their historical distribution AND threaten the environment, the economy, and society (including human health). In Ontario, invasive species are estimated to cost $3.6 billion per year based on their impacts to forestry, agriculture, fisheries, healthcare, tourism and recreation. There have been over 50 invasive species identified in Midland, with some species posing a significant threat to our environment and communities, including but not limited to:

  • Gypsy Moth
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Zebra Mussels
  • Wild Parsnip
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Eurasian Water-Milfoil

SSEA’s Role

The Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) is a joint municipal service board (under the Municipal Act section 202) that provides environmental services to local municipalities in order to sustain environmental quality and ensure protection through stewardship of the Severn Sound watershed. The SSEA partners with and supports the Town of Midland to develop and deliver cost-effective environmental programs and projects to benefit the community. One of the services that SSEA provides is an Invasive Species Program to help prevent, identify, monitor, and manage invasive species in the Town of Midland and their other partner municipalities. SSEA’s Invasive Species Program works to:

  • Establish monitoring & management programs and assess the regional impact
  • Collaborate with local, provincial & national organizations
  • Educate municipal representatives & residents
  • Empower community members to take action, provide guidance, & coordinate regional management efforts

Resources

Q&A

Do you have a question? Don't hesitate to ask one! We'll get you an answer as soon as possible. 
(Questions may be answered publicly or privately, depending on the subject matter.)

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    I see phragmities in ditches and wetlands. But what can I Do?

    Fred Engstrom asked about 1 month ago

    Hi Fred,

    Thank you for your question. 

    Phragmites control is a multi-year process and often requires integration of several management techniques. Monitoring or management of Phragmites populations may be required in future years if viable plant parts and/or seed are present in the soil. If you are looking for a few actions you can take on your property, I've outlined some of the best management practices that are being used across Ontario below (based on the provincial document: https://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/OIPC_BMP_Phragmites_April302021_D10_WEB.pdf).

    Mechanical:

    Manual spading (Multiple times from June to September)

    • A sharp straight edge shovel can be used to sever the rhizome/stem below the ground to weaken underground structures
    • The shovel can be placed at the base of the stem at a 45 degree angle 
    • The person will apply force to the shovel and insert the shovel into the soil to cut the underground structure 
    • This can be done for smaller populations and outlier plants

    ·        More information with photos is available through SSEA's website: https://www.severnsound.ca/Shared%20Documents/Info/Phragmites_Removal_Technique_Wymbolwood_Beach_2015.pdf

    Underwater Cutting 'Cut-to-drown method' (Multiple times from May to September)

    • Used for Phragmites stands that are partially submerged under water 
    • Manually cut stems below the water's surface using hand or power tools such as shears, pruners, knives, cane or brush cutters
    • Cut as close as possible to the substrate, at least 30 cm below the surface
    • After cutting the stems, the cut portion of the plant needs to be collected and properly disposed of
    • This technique drowns the roots and works in areas where the plant is consistently emerging from a water source
       

    Mowing/Cutting (year-round)

    • Mowing/Cutting the above ground portion of the plant ALONE will be virtually ineffective
    • Mowing/cutting the stems can stimulate further growth of Phragmites 
    • Mowing/Cutting does not affect the extensive root system, which can rapidly generate new stems 
    • If there are viable seed heads present, mowing will facilitate seed dispersal 
    • Mowing/Cutting should only be used in conjunction with other management practices 
      • When appropriate to mow, mechanical or hand tools can be used

    Flower/Seed Head Removal (multiple times from August to October)

    • When other management is not possible, flower or seed heads can be removed to control spread
    • If mowing, remove seed heads first 
    • Seed heads can be trimmed with a hand tool and bagged 
    • Care must be taken to prevent accidental dispersal of seeds 

     
    Chemical:

    Foliar Herbicide (early summer to fall; after bird nesting season)

    • There are two active ingredients that are registered for the control of Phragmites in Canada: Glyphosate and Imazapyr
    • Products must be registered with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency and applied by a licensed pesticide applicator 
    • Herbicides must be applied in accordance with the label and appropriate municipal, provincial and/or federal permits or authorizations 
    • These herbicides are non-specific to Phragmites and will kill other plant species 
    • Herbicide application should be used in conjunction with other management practices: 
      • Removal (cutting) of dead stalks prior to application 
      • Cutting/mowing should occur least 4 weeks before treatment 
      • Cutting/mowing should occur no earlier than 3 weeks after treatment

     Disposal:

    • Cut biomass can be immediately transported to the North Simcoe Transfer Station for disposal OR
    • Plants can be dried out for several weeks, which can be done on site by placing biomass in a dry location with direct sun and placing a tarp over top and securing it 
    • Dry biomass can be burned where permitted by municipality 
    • If dumped, composted, or left in water before drying out, Phragmites will likely re-grow and spread


    Clean Equipment Protocol:
    All equipment should be cleaned before removing from site, including vehicles, machinery, tools, and personal protective equipment. Clothing and equipment can carry Phragmites seeds and plant material to new areas and facilitate the spread and growth in new areas. Consider reviewing the Clean Equipment Protocol: https://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Clean-Equipment-Protocol_June2016_D3_WEB-1.pdf

    If Phragmites is present on adjacent lands, consider working together with property owners to implement best management practices and control spread. 

    Caution: Phragmites stems are very sharp! Wear gloves when handling plants and wear sturdy footwear to avoid piercing through skin.

    Tamara Brincat
    Invasive Species Program Coordinator - SSEA