Important Information for All

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dealing with Unwanted Plant Life

In our last post, we talked about invasive and/or problematic plants both in and out of the lake. This time, we’d like to share a little more on this subject, based on information and guidance received through our partnership with Severn Sound Environmental Association.

Their wetland biologist identified samples of two types of grasses taken from the lake as wild rice and hard-stemmed bulrush. We have received reports that one or both of these are crowding the shoreline of some properties. Before we continue, we must stress that there are legal and safety factors involved in dealing with both native and invasive plants and state that we do not advise anyone to proceed without professional, educated consultation.

Residents may be able to do some selective clearing to make a path wide enough for boat passage, however there are some rules to follow from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). DFO rules take precedence over the MNRF rules since they’re federal, but the best plan is to go with whichever is the more restrictive regulation.

Based on our location, a permit from the MNRF is not needed but there are some rules to follow. You must be the property owner, or conducting removal on behalf of the owner. You may only remove plants directly in front of your own property. You must dispose of removed plants on dry land, and any wheeled or tracked machinery or equipment used must be used, operated and/or stored on dry land as well. You may only use mechanical devices such as a rake or cutter bar, or bare hands to remove plants – dredging the bed of the water body is not permitted. There are also rules regarding the maximum dimensions of removal sites allowed, and about clearing during fish spawning seasons. To ensure that you are compliant should you wish to remove native aquatic plants, we strongly recommend that you contact the MNR district office before proceeding. They are located at 2284 Nursery Rd in Midhurst, or you can reach them by phone at 705-725-7500. To determine whether a DFO permit may be necessary, please contact them by writing Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 520 Exmouth Street, Sarnia, ON N7T 8B1 or you can call 1-866-290-3731 toll free.

The MNRF rules for removal of invasive aquatic plants such as invasive phragmites or purple loosestrife are very similar to those for non-invasive plants. There are currently a few patches of phragmites in the area that are not in the lake. The OLRA will look into the identifying whether these are native or invasive and, if necessary, their removal before the problem becomes more widespread. If you do see phragmites on your property it is important that they be removed or, at the very least, the seedheads should be cut off and burned to prevent windborne spread. Invasive phragmites grow through an extensive underground rhizome system so a single control method may not be effective.

Giant hogweed contains a phototoxic sap which reacts with ultra-violet (UV) light once it has come in contact with the skin. It can cause second degree burns. There are four species of giant hogweed but not all are found in North America. It is important to get to know this plant – and its “look-alikes”. Due to the health risks associated with giant hogweed, it is extremely important to become educated and seek consultation in dealing with it should it appear on your property.

We have added pdf files on the top left of the blog that detail best handling practices for both phragmites and hogweed. This is a good first step toward understanding what you are up against in trying to remove and/or control these plants.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Cruel September

As I write, the first day of school is just a few hours away. Once I craved this return to routine. When my days didn’t unfold in an orderly fashion I felt unglued and out of sorts. It was harder to focus and accomplish things that would leave me feeling satisfied with my small contribution to the spinning of the planet at the end of the day. I used to welcome fall and the return of schedules with open arms. Now it seems to me, despite what T.S. Eliot had to say about April, that September is the cruelest month.

These days, clocks and calendars seem more like unwanted guests in my home than beloved members of the family. There are a few exterior reasons for my change of heart. The kids who used to spend weekends in my basement are hanging out in post-secondary residences now. The first child I brought into this world is expecting the arrival of his own soon. My daughter, who has been occupying that basement since the younger kids expanded their horizons, is planning to move out on her own. All these events are exciting and evoke a ton of positive thoughts and feelings but also bring on retrospection and a pesistent desire to turn back the hands of time. Yet, simultaneously, retirement skips just a few steps ahead of me and I want to run to catch up. I can’t wait to have the freedom from the demands of a job and kids to plan my days around things that I never have time for. Essentially, I want things that are polar opposites and, for the moment, can have neither.

Then along comes September. Contradictory, deceptive, demanding September. It offers lovely, sunny hours free of humidity while slamming the door shut on the lazy days of summer. In the evenings we’re reaching for sweaters we haven’t even thought of for months but wishing we’d worn shorts in mid-afternoon. The geese are gathering as the leaves begin to turn colour but corn and pumpkins are still growing. On the surface, it looks as though September can’t make up its mind what it wants. It seems to both mock and mimic my own state of mind. Sure, April has its own back and forth dance but spring seems more like a playful child following any given whim. September is more like Grimm’s witch that builds a lovely gingerbread treat just so she can stuff you in her oven. It’s purposefully messing with us. September can be a real jerk.

We can’t force it to be a more decisive month any more than I can change my adult children back to babies or quit my job today. The next best thing, I suppose, is to just roll with it. Tidy up what we can, put a few things on hold and start fresh all at once.

For the OLRA, the annual general meeting tidies up issues that have previously arisen and presents new concerns that need attention. In the area of closure, we heard a report on lake testing conducted by the SSEA during 2015 and closed the effort to have waste collection day changed after we were unable to achieve a majority in favour. Still in progress are an update on septic re-inspection and investigating obstacles to providing a kayak and canoe lock-up at the park. New business focused on plant life both in and out of the water with discussions regarding expanding lake grasses and the recent appearance of phragmites and hogweed in our area. Residents who have already purchased their 2016-17 membership should already have received a full copy of the meeting minutes. If yours didn’t arrive in your inbox, please let us know. For those who would like to review the minutes but are not current members, please see the membership section on the right to purchase your membership online or contact us to use an alternative method of payment.

With the writing of this post, I’ve finished taking care of what I need to do today and I’m heading outside to enjoy a few more hours of freedom. Maybe I’ll stick my tongue out at September while I’m at it.