Board, Staff and Community Engagement Case Study
Lynn Short, Instructor, Humber College
Before Lynn Short began Phragmites removal at Wymbolwood Beach on Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada, many community members found this restoration work too time consuming and hopeless. Short changed these perceptions with education and successful results, “Once some of the natural ecosystems were restored and the residents began to see the frogs and the wildflowers and the butterflies, then they remembered what it used to be like.”
Short’s removal projects “think like a plant” by using the spading method that eliminates the parts of the Phragmites plant that perform photosynthesis. Individuals can effectively control Phragmites by pushing a sharpened spade with his or her legs near the base of the plant at a 45-degree angle to cut the stalk below the surface to selectively remove the individual stalks.
Intensive spading from Short and volunteers sufficiently controlled and removed Phragmites at Wymbolwood Beach after five years. “Many hands make light work. Community involvement is very important,” said Short about her help. High school students comprised many of the volunteers, because these students needed to complete 40 hours of community service to graduate.
The most effective Phragmites removal occurs in late-July to early August just before the plant flowers. Additional control in the fall around September to October should better prevent reestablishment. Remove Phragmites’ flowers before they go to seed if the plant has already flowered.
Short and the volunteers have successfully managed Phragmites populations at Wymbolwood and other Georgian Bay shores for the last 10 years. Short explained, “It really takes persistent removal for several years, but it is rewarding”.