Phragmites Information Session & Demonstration

Lynn Short teaches about identifying Phragmites, and the spading technique.

On Saturday July 8th, about 40 people gathered in Goderich to talk about Phragmites: what it is, why it’s a problem, and what we can do about it.   Phragmites is Canada’s worst invasive species, and it is starting to be seen more frequently in Huron County.  It is found most often where there is water – along roadsides, in agricultural drains, and in rivers and wetlands.

Phragmites have an extensive root system.

And they can send out REALLY long shoots!

The take home messages from the day?

  • Phragmites grows and spreads very quickly.  It’s damaging our environment by displacing native plants and animals.  It hurts tourism by invading beaches and rivers, and agriculture by preventing water flow.
  • There are several ways to control Phragmites, including spading, chemical control, burning, rolling, and drowning. The best method depends on the site, and it’s likely you’ll have to work for several years to fully get rid of it.
  • Phragmites is a BIG problem in other areas and is expensive to control if it’s well established. We need to ACT NOW to prevent it from becoming a big problem in Huron County.
  • Working together is our best chance to get rid of this invasive plant from our community!

The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority can advise landowners on control methods for Phragmites, and are available to spray Phragmites (if that is the appropriate method) on a fee for service basis.  Contact Kate Monk at 519-235-2610.

Our three incredible speakers made the day a great success. Dr. Janice Gilbert is Ontario’s leading Phragmites expert.  She has done extensive research on the effect of Phragmites on Ontario’s wetland ecosystems, and has been travelling across the province to talk about why it’s important to control Phragmites and the impacts it could have if we don’t take action.  Nancy Vidler is passionate and determined about mobilizing communities to remove Phragmites.  She is an active member of the Lambdon Shores Phragmites Community Group, which has done extensive work to eradicate Phrag.  Lynn Short is a Professor at Humber College and has been removing Phragmites using a ‘spading technique’, which she demonstrated to the group at the Hindmarsh property.

We were pleased to co-host the Phragmites information session and demonstration with the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation, and Maitland Conservation.  The day would not have been possible without the support of the John Hindmarsh Environmental Trust Fund.

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It’s no joke: Join us to clean up the shores of the Maitland on April 1st!

 

The meeting place for the river clean up is on North Harbour Road, at the base of the Menesetung Bridge trail.  See you there at 11!

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Back to Blacker!

Thank you to everyone who joined us to get Back to Blacker.  We had a little bit of rain to cool us down while we planted 400 hardwood trees.

The good news was we had lots of helping hands.   From people who helped prepare the site ahead of time (mowing, digging holes), to moving trees around the site, trucking in mulch, and of course getting the trees in the ground, it truly took a team effort to get everything done.

Now each of us can watch the trees grow up as we make our trips in and out of town. The trees have had a good drink of water in the rain we had last week.

Thank you once again to everyone who contributed to the tree planting event.  We’d also like to acknowledge the leadership and hard work of our partners at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.  It’s been fun!

Photos were provided by Mike Francis (NCC).

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Blacker 6 Blacker 4

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Blacker planting day

 

 

 

 

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Back to Blacker: tree planting on May 7

Where?  Blacker Property on Highway 8 (Huron Road), 5 km from Goderich.  The property is owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
When?  May 7, 2016, 11:30am to 3pm
To register, click here.

There have been coniferous (evergreen) trees planting on this property in the past, and only about half survived. The trees planted this spring will add diversity, and eventually this area will become a beautiful mixed forest.

There have been coniferous (evergreen) trees planting on this property in the past, and only about half survived. The trees planted this spring will add diversity, and eventually this area will become a beautiful mixed forest.

Join NCC, HSC, and Maitland Valley Conservation Authority staff on Saturday May 7th as we go ‘Back to Blacker‘ to continue our restoration of a former agricultural field to a beautiful mixed forest characteristic of the Lower Maitland River Valley. By planting native deciduous trees to augment the restoration of the area we’ll be increasing the overall size and quality of the forest on the Blacker property as well as creating more habitat for area sensitive bird species.

No previous experience is required, but but participants should dress for the conditions: wear sturdy closed-toe shoes (steel toes if possible), long pants, comfortable clothing you don’t mind getting dirty, and a hat. Please bring your own lunch and refillable water bottle. You may also bring your own work gloves, if you have them.

NCC will provide work gloves for those who need them as well as extra snacks and water. There will be no on-site washroom facilities at this event. Additional event details, including directions and parking information will be provided after registration.

We will be planting all native, deciduous species, about the size of the trees in this picture.

We will be planting all native, deciduous species, about the size of the trees in this picture.

The Lower Maitland River Valley Natural Area is one of the largest areas of natural cover in southern Ontario. It is a physically diverse landscape of cliffs, forests and seepage areasproviding habitat for many species, including some of which are globally and/or provincially rare. NCC has acquired a number of properties in the area in an effort to conserve and maintain these features, including the Blacker Property. The property contains a wide range of interesting species, including the endangered butternut tree.

If you’d like to carpool to the event, please click here, https://www.groupcarpool.com/t/7xipyk to add your car or join a ride going to the event. There is also a waitlist feature if there isn’t a ride there yet that works for you. Happy carpooling!

NCC would like to thank the Edge Renewal Fund and Huron Clean Water Program for their generous support of this CV event.

The yellow star is where the trees will be planted. There will be parking alongside Huron Road, but it will be limited. Please try to carpool if you can.

The yellow star is where the trees will be planted. There will be parking alongside Huron Road, but it will be limited. Please try to carpool if you can.

 MW - LMRV -  Trees Back to Blacker - Event Poster-1

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Mark your calendars!

We hope you can join us for our spring and summer events.  The details about these events will be posted closer to the date, but for now make sure you have them marked in your calendars.

May 7 – Tree planting at the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Blacker property, on Highway 8 between Clinton and Goderich. (Rain Date: May 14)

June 11 – Brenda Gallagher from the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority will be leading us on a tour to learn more about the NCC’s newly acquired Riverbend property. Brenda is very knowledgeable about plants and along our route will be able to discuss plant species, their history, ecology, folklore, medicinal uses, etc. We’re fortunate she has offered to lead our outing!

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Lower Maitland River Video Debut Screening – April 1st

Join us for the Lower Maitland River Video release!  At the Maitland Trail Association AGM, we will present the debut screening of the video that has been created over the past year.  We’re so excited for everyone to see the breathtaking shots in this video.

We’ll see you there!

MTA Poster - Final

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El Camino 2015

Barrie and Klaus

Tom and Klaus

For the third year in a row, the Lower Maitland Stewardship Group sponsored the Cherrydale checkpoint at the El Camino event. Hosted by the Maitland Trail Association, the ‘El Camino’ is a hiking journey from Auburn to Goderich along the entire length of the Maitland Trail. The event was held the weekend of September 26-27, 2015.

Laurie checks in a hiker.

Laurie checks in a hiker.

At Cherrydale, hikers were greeted by Barrie Elliott, Tom Lobb, Laurie Ginn, Rhea Hamilton-Seeger, and Klaus Seeger with homemade treats and ‘souvenir’ LMSG postcards showing the unique and sensitive plants and animals that can be found along the Lower Maitland River.

The LMSG checkpoint at Cherrydale was 27 km in to the 30 km hike.  This year, 250 hikers participated in the event, both from the area and out of town. The checkpoint gave us a chance to spread the word about our group, showcase the rare species that rely on the Maitland, and promote good stewardship!

Hikers take a rest and enjoy some treats!

Hikers take a rest and enjoy some treats!

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Shoreline clean-up: 75 lbs of garbage is removed from the Lower Maitland River!

O(null)8n  September 12th the Lower Maitland Stewardship Group co-hosted the Great Goderich Shoreline Clean-up with the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation.  By all accounts the event was a success!  In two hours on this beautiful Saturday morning, 36 people cleaned up 117 lbs from the beach (42 lbs) and river (75 lbs).  Amazing!  The total shoreline distance covered was 6 km, and we cleaned up a total of 5,261 pieces of litter.

THANK YOU!

To all the participants that joined us on Saturday: it was inspiring to see how much can be accomplished in 2 hours when we work together.  117 lbs of garbage are now gone from our river and lake!  Wow.

(null)2Prizes for this event were generously donated by: the Maitland Golf Course, 360 Bikes ‘n Boards, the Beach Street Station, the Town of Goderich, the Coastal Centre, and the Huron Stewardship Council.

Delicious refreshments were donated by Zehrs in Goderich.

Many event participants left their e-mail for updates on the next clean up.   You can get your e-mail added to the list by contacting Rachel at huronstewardship@gmail.com, or check back to the LMSG website.

Below are the results of the clean up.  Some items of note that were cleaned up from the Lower Maitland River include 71 plastic bottles, 64 paper cups (Tim Horton’s cups, mostly), 65 golf balls, a paddle, fishing paraphernalia, and a metal fence post.IMG_2203(null)1

Great Goderich Shoreline Clean-up Results - Sept 12 2015-1

Great Goderich Shoreline Clean-up Results - Sept 12 2015-2

 

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Shoreline and Waterfront Clean-up September 12

Shoreline Clean-up Sept 12, 2015-1

We hope you join us for the shoreline clean up in September.  The Lower Maitland Stewardship Group will meet at the bottom of North Harbour Road, at the entrance to the Menesetung Bridge.  We will spend about an hour and a half cleaning up the shores of the Maitland River.  Concurrently, the Coastal Centre will be leading a clean-up at the Goderich waterfront.  We will all come together for refreshments and door prizes at the Main Beach.

Sign up today!  www.shorelinecleanup.ca

The following is an article by Karen Alexander at the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation about the importance of cleaning up plastic from the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Plastic Pollution: the solution is you

Plastic pollution is emerging as a serious threat to the Great Lakes.  Recent studies by US researchers have discovered that concentrations of plastic in the Great Lakes are higher than those in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a sea of floating plastic spanning hundreds of square kilometers discovered in the Pacific in the 1970’s.

All plastic littered across the landscape eventually makes its way to the lake through storm water drains, creeks, streams, and rivers.  Once in the lake, plastic floats and can be carried out into the lake, or wash along the shore.

Large plastic litter items can entangle and harm wildlife, carry aquatic species beyond their normal range, and decrease the aesthetic beauty of the Great Lakes.  Small pieces of plastic may be mistakenly ingested by local wildlife causing choking, or if swallowed, malnourishment and / or starvation.

Plastic fragments continue to degrade until they become microplastic pieces.  Microplastics can also come from other surprising sources such as personal care products like facial cleansers and body scrubs that contain the ingredients polyethylene and polypropylene, both micro bead plastics.  Synthetic fibres from laundered clothing are also a source because, like personal care products, the microplastic ingredients are small enough to wash through sewage treatment plants directly into the lake.  Even plastic pellets, industry’s raw plastic material used to create virtually all plastic products, are being found in the lake and on the shore.  These pellets are likely coming from spills during transport over land and /or water.

As plastic pollution accumulates in the Lakes, the amount of plastic debris washing onto shorelines is also increasing.  Combine what is washing in with what is left behind by beach goers, and the Lake Huron coast can start to look like a regular old garbage dump.  In 2014, community volunteers helped remove over 10,000 plastic articles from nearly 40 km of Lake Huron shoreline.  The most common litter items found are cigarette butts and single use food containers like wrappers, cups and straws.

Garbage covered beaches are not OK for groups like the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation who are working hard to coordinate beach clean-ups and educate beach-goers about the importance of properly disposing plastic litter items.

One of their campaigns is titled “Butt Free Beach” and targets cigarette butt litter on public beaches.  Cigarette butts are made of a fibrous plastic that will never biodegrade.  The campaign piloted successfully in Grand Bend in 2013 and has since expanded to Canatara Park, Goderich waterfront, Station Beach, and Sauble Beach.  The program offers recyclable, re-useable cardboard ashtrays for smoking beach goers to responsibly dispose of cigarette butts as opposed to burying them in the sand.

Of course the best way to reduce plastic pollution in the lakes starts with responsible plastic consumption, coupled with proper disposal or recycling.  Beach clean-ups remain a last resort option for managing the impacts of plastic pollution.

The Coastal Centre is excited to partner with the Lower Maitland Stewardship Group to organize a Great Goderich Shoreline Clean-up for the Goderich waterfront and the Maitland River Valley on September 12, 2015.  Volunteers are needed to make this event a success. To register for the clean-up please visit www.shorelinecleanup.ca.  For more information, contact Karen Alexander (Karen.alexander@lakehuron.on.ca) or Rachel White (huronstewardship@gmail.com).

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Blue Crayfish Mystery Solved!

We have been conducting Queensnake searches in the Maitland River for several years now. Along with that, we have also been studying crayfish. The reason for that is that the diet of the snakes is almost entirely freshly molted crayfish. This happens several times a year for young, rapidly growing crayfish and once a year for adult males after mating. There are three species of crayfish in the river, and a fourth, the rusty crayfish, is an invasive that we keep an eye out for. So far, we have not seen it, which is good.

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A blue crayfish. Source: Kris Stepenuk – kris.stepenuck@ces.uwex.edu

Crayfish are normally a drab olive and brown colour, but every now and then we come across one that is a bright sky-blue all over. This invariably sparks a discussion amongst the researchers as to the cause. Is it something in their diet, something about where they are living, or some other reason? This has remained a mystery … until now. There was a Queensnake Training Day held recently, with the hands-on portion of the program taking place in the Maitland River. There will be several teams of researchers studying Queensnakes in a number of different watersheds, so they had to learn the required protocols. The crayfish portion of the training was handled by Dr. Premek Hamr, who is Ontario’s leading crayfish expert.

Dr. Hamr demonstrates how to identify each species of crayfish to onlooking biologists. Photo by Jory Mullen

Dr. Hamr demonstrates how to identify each species of crayfish to onlooking biologists. Photo by Jory Mullen

As the ‘crayfish man’ and I were walking along in the shallow water and scanning rocks for crayfish, I couldn’t resist asking about the blue ones.  Premek responded that it was an extremely rare genetic trait, with maybe one occurrence in many thousands. He also said that they are highly prized for aquariums. Several steps later, I spotted a bright blue claw laying on the bottom of the river. After a minute, the rest of the crayfish’s remains were found. Premek examined it and commented, “Too bad something got it. It would have been great in a tank.” So I now have a better understanding of one of the Maitland River’s many fascinating critters.

– Tom Lobb, Landowner and local Naturalist    

To learn more about the Queensnake project in the Lower Maitland River, visit the Huron Stewardship Council website:  hsc.huronstewardship.ca.

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