On a cloudy Saturday in July, a group of “Phrag Phighters” gathered at Lambton Centre on the Lake Huron shoreline for a Partner and Volunteer Appreciation BBQ to celebrate the habitat restoration work underway in Wood Drive and Lambton Centre. Wood Drive cottagers, Lambton Centre campers and staff, representatives from partner associations and contractors, as well as members of the Long Point Phragmites Action Alliance gathered to celebrate their hard work and dedication in managing invasive Phragmites australis along this ~160 acre stretch of a provincially significant wetland. Sixty-one individuals, outfitted in bright T-shirts provided by the Invasive Phragmites Control Centre (IPCC) attended, including Renee Turza from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Bill Weber, Mayor of Lambton Shores and John Frazer, representing the office of MPP Monte McNaughton.
Following a demonstration of “spading” and “cutting to drown”, volunteers headed out into the wetland and put their newly acquired skills to use. Two Truxors hummed in deeper waters in the background, driven by Chad McKeown and Bev Cloud from Green Stream Lawn and Vegetation Management while brisk winds and waves lapped against the shore.
Equipment used by the Lambton Shores Phragmites Community Group (LSPCG) was also being used or on display.
As the lake became calmer, guests were taken on a boat tour to see the tremendous scale of this project area from the water. During this time, Nancy Vidler, Board Chair of the LSPCG and Dr. Janice Gilbert, Wetland Ecologist, IPCC, fielded questions from local and US media sources.
The LSPCG is committed to working with other organizations and landowners to restore wetland habitat and beaches in the Municipality of Lambton Shores. Sharing success stories provides others around the province with hope that Phragmites can be controlled. After struggling to control Phrag for many years, Lambton Centre has reclaimed their ~15 acres of shoreline and campers are now enjoying the beach, beautiful sunsets and recreational activities. There is a strong commitment by all involved to maintain the beach.
Wood Drive is a much larger site- 10 times the size of Lambton Centre! Progress is being made in spite of the challenges confronting the volunteers in this very dense, well established monoculture cell. Shallow water, large boulders and high wind events slows down the recovery. The LSPCG continues to follow with great interest the promising work being done in Long Point and Rondeau, under an Emergency Use Permit using a safe herbicide for aquatic sites.
As the work drew to a close for the day, everyone stopped for a bite to eat. The BBQ sizzled and the volunteer chefs did a great job! A huge “thank you” to Sobey’s Grand Bend and Juicy Fruit Market of Thedford for their donations of food and produce. Mayor Weber applauded the LSPCG, Dr. Gilbert, the contractors and the many volunteers for their passion and persistence.
The day was a success as it provided an opportunity to network and learn from one another and enjoy a moment to celebrate the successes in Wood Drive and neighbouring Lambton Centre. Thanks to the National Wetland Conservation Fund, the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund, Land Stewardship Habitat Restoration Fund and the Municipality of Lambton Shores for their financial support.