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Severn Sound environmental group gets funds to fight phragmites

Plants can grow into dense, single species stands that degrade local environment, officials ward

Severn Sound Environmental Association of Port McNicoll was awarded $9,000 from the Green Shovels Collaborative’s Invasive Phragmites Control Fund to combat the invasive plant, phragmites.

This project joins 20 others from across Ontario that were supported through the Invasive Phragmites Control Fund, a granting program made possible by an expanded investment of $250,000 from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Invasive phragmites are aggressive plants that spread quickly and pose a considerable threat to Ontario’s environment and economy. Phragmites outcompete native species for water and nutrients. Growing up to 5 metres in height and up to 1 metre below ground, phragmites form dense stands that generally provide poor habitat and food for wildlife, including several species at risk.

Once established, phragmites can grow into dense, single species stands that can degrade local environments including reducing biological diversity, impacting infrastructure, agriculture, recreation, tourism, and public safety.

Investing in a collaborative, sustained solution to phragmites is well worth it. A 2021 study estimated total economic benefits realized by controlling phragmites could exceed $113 million annually in Ontario.

An investment in scaled Phragmites control would pay dividends in preventing the many costs of phragmites to Ontario through reduced agricultural production, reduced public access to water, increased flooding, and lost tourism revenue.

The Severn Sound Environmental Association supports environmental quality and ensures continued protection through stewardship of the Severn Sound Watershed. 

Severn Sound Watershed Roadside Invasive Phragmites Mapping Initiative is an ongoing, collaborative project using proven strategies to survey and map invasive Phragmites within the Severn Sound watershed. By targeting invasive phragmites in this way, Severn Sound Environmental Association aims to greatly slow the spread of the plant in the future.

“Severn Sound Environmental Association expects to survey roughly 2000 km of municipal roadways for invasive phragmites and translate the information into a comprehensive map that can target future municipal phragmites management in the watershed,” explained Patrick Jackson, Severn Sound Envrionmental Association.

You can learn more about the Invasive Phragmites Control Fund here.