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Enbridge partners with Kincardine, SVCA and Coastal Centre in phragmites eradication at Brucedale

June 4, 2015

Enbridge has put $100,000 in funding toward the eradication of phragmites australis (common reed) at the Brucedale Conservation Area.

The company has joined the Municipality of Kincardine, the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) and the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, on a five-year program to manage phragmites, improve the wetland ecosystem, and provide environmental education programs.

The partnership was launched Thursday morning at Brucedale, as about 60 Grades 4 and 5 students from St. Joseph's School in Port Elgin and Port Elgin Saugeen Central School, took part in interactive wetland education activities, before enjoying a lunch of pizza and cake.

While the students were having lunch, Karen Alexander, education and outreach co-ordinator for the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, welcomed a small crowd to the official launch of the partnership. Pointing to the infestation of phragmites along the lakeshore, she said there is a huge wetland complex that runs from MacGregor Point Provincial Park to Baie du Dor, and it is all affected.

"This is an aggressive, invasive species that came from Europe and has taken over eastern North America," said Alexander, adding that the restoration program will improve the wetland and bring back recreational opportunities at the conservation area. "Right now, people can't see the beach or enjoy the lake."

“We are pleased to partner with the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation and the SVCA on this legacy project at Brucedale Conservation Area,” said Ian MacRobbie, Eastern Region general manager for Enbridge Green Power, Transmission and Emerging Technology.

“We’ve seen the impact that phragmites has had to this and other shorelines, and we’re excited to see the difference this remediation project will have in the coming years.”

"We are grateful for this funding from Enbridge,” said Luke Charbonneau, SVCA board chairman. “I know that phragmites has already been successfully controlled on some beaches in the Saugeen watershed. I am hopeful that this funding will help us attain a similar level of success at Brucedale."

He also thanked the coastal centre for being a valuable partner for many years in managing issues along the Lake Huron shoreline.

Kincardine councillor Maureen Couture, speaking on behalf of mayor Anne Eadie, said this is a terrific investment by Enbridge, as well as the coastal centre and the SVCA, to eradicate phragmites and restore the wetland at Brucedale.

"Kincardine has been working on phragmites eradication for three years now," she said. "We have ministry (of natural resources) approval to continue eradicating it through to 2018, and we have budgeted $50,000 this year for that work. I'm excited to be here for the launch of this program."

After the ceremonial "cut" of phragmites by Alexander, MacRobbie, Charbonneau and Couture, the crowd was invited to enjoy pizza and cake as well.

To help educate the community on the importance of wetlands and provide an overview of this project, a free community day is also being held, this Saturday, June 6, from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Visitors can take part in a shore clean-up, learn about phragmites and management techniques, as well as meet the project partners. Interactive education activities will be available for participants and a free barbecue lunch will also be provided.

The Brucedale Conservation Area is located on 120 acres, just off the 10th Concession of the Municipality of Kincardine (between Tiverton and North Bruce). It is owned and managed by the SVCA, and is open to the public from mid-May to Thanksgiving weekend.

Brucedale is the only campground operated by the SVCA that sits on the shores of Lake Huron. The park offers a variety of recreational activities which included, at one time, swimming.

Phragmites australis is an invasive species that is well-established along the shoreline at the Brucedale Conservation Area. The plant grows up to eight metres tall, and in densities of up to 200 stems per square metre. The invasion is effectively blocking views and recreational access to the lake. The plant is also changing the hydrology (water flow) through the wetland which, over time, will change the vegetation and, ultimately, the habitat available for wetland species that rely on coastal meadow marshes for survival.

Phragmites can be successfully controlled only if recreation and other activities that spread the plant are simultaneously managed. Activities that are known to spread phragmites include vegetation clearing or mowing, ATVs, recreation equipment that is not properly cleaned (i.e. fishing gear, canoes), and even hiking boots and water shoes can accidentally carry seeds from one area to another.

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