Rangers rally to remove invasive plants along Highway 17

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The Invasive Species Centre has enlisted the help of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Stewardship Youth Rangers to help control invasive phragmites along Highway 17.

Phragmites australis or European Common Reed, is an aggressive invasive plant that wreaks havoc on Ontario’s wetland biodiversity and is listed as a restricted species under the Ontario Invasive Species Act. The stalks of the European Common Reed grow so thick that native vegetation cannot compete, and native animals (i.e. turtles) cannot climb through the dense mat of stems, blocking access to wetlands. The plant also creates a fire hazard as the dead stock is extremely flammable. Highway 17 is particularly vulnerable to the spread of this invasive plant due to the high traffic of motorists unknowingly moving hitchhiking seeds to new areas.

Lauren Bell, Coordinator of the Invasive Species Centre’s Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) Network, will provide the Rangers with training on identifying and removing the invasive plant. The spading removal technique is an effective way to manually remove phragmites with a sharpened spade, cutting the plant just below the soil surface. This method has proven most effective in combination with a spraying program. By removing the plants in mid-July, you hinder the plants ability to seed and spread to new locations.

Working in collaboration with ongoing Ministry of Transportation Ontario phragmites control programs, the Stewardship Youth Rangers will spend three days working on several locations along Highway 17, including the northern leading edge of the infestation along Mile Hill.

In addition to phragmites removal, the EDRR Network will be hosting several educational open houses and training workshops in Sault Ste. Marie and other locations in the Algoma-Manitoulin region this year. This Network is generously funded through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and delivered in partnership with the Ontario Invasive Plant Council. If you want to help prevent or reduce the spread of invasive species in your community, attend one of our workshops and become an EDRR Volunteer! For more information visit edrrontario.ca.