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.

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