Long Point Crown Marsh Restoration Project, 2016-17

Project by the Long Point Waterfowlers’ Assocation.

Location: Long Point Crown Marsh, Norfolk County, ON.

For more information on this project, please contact Jim Malcolm, Past-President LPWA, Chair – Crown Marsh Restoration Committee, Port Rowan, ON.

Purpose

  1. New restoration of native communities and open water habitat through the control of Phragmites australis using OMNRF’s Best Management Practices document. One of the biggest pressures facing coastal in the Lower Great Lakes region is inundation by Phragmites. Phragmites outcompetes native vegetation, colonizes and overtakes open water areas and has measurable role in lowering static water levels in wetlands. Controlling Phragmites using OMNRF’s BMPs has shown to restore water levels and returns open water in shallow wetlands. This method involves using an herbicide treatment during dry season by a license contractor, followed by rolling and a final prescribed burn treatment to destroy existing seed heads. This will allow for native vegetation communities to begin to re-generate. In areas, where favourable conditions exist and it is deemed necessary, heavy equipment will be used to scrape away the organic layer containing Phragmites rhizomes and a new open water community will be created.
  2. In addition to the new communities there will also be maintenance of existing restoration sites completed over the past 10 years. It is imperative that follow-up maintenance be completed at past restoration sites in order to protect the ecological and financial investment made to date. Using similar methodology described above, this maintenance will target previously restored sites and access channels.

Long-term conservation impacts and benefits

The Long Point Crown Marsh rehabilitation project provides numerous long-term conservation impacts and benefits to not only the marsh itself, but also the community and to waterfowl all across North America.

Within the Long Point Crown Marsh the benefits include reduction of invasive phragmites australis throughout the marsh, which allows the marsh to return to a more natural state. This includes more open-water habitat, a diverse assortment of native plants and provides better habitat for all types of species who spend a portion of their lives in the marsh. This includes several species of waterfowl, birds, reptiles, amphibians, etc, including Species at Risk. Returning the marsh to it’s once highly productive state benefits both the marsh and many species for the long-term.

The Long Point Crown Marsh will continue to be home for several dedicated waterfowl hunters and the future generations of waterfowl hunters and conservationists. By restoring the marsh we ensure waterfowl and other species great quality habitat.

This past year a committee called the Long Point Phragmites Action Alliance was formed and many of the local community groups, agencies, NGO’s participate on this committee to work towards a Phragmites free Long Point. The work being done at the Long Point Crown Marsh is one step forward in reducing Phragmites throughout Long Point. Several other agencies, private marshes and landowners are working towards eliminating Phragmites from their properties in Long Point and in Norfolk County. There are several long-term benefits of reducing and ideally eliminating this invasive reed within a Great Lakes coastal marsh.

New tools, methodologies, landscape practices or protocols

Beginning in 2015-16 and continuing in 2016-17, the LPCM Rehabilitation Project will once again lead the way with new wetland restoration practices, in addition to proven methodologies previously implemented, guided by MNRF’s 2011 document Invasive Phragmites – Best Management Practices, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario (Version 2011. 15p.). Considered the foremost publication for eradication of this detrimental plant in the province this document provides methodologies, timing windows and ecological considerations that must be undertaken when controlling Phragmites.

This publication suggests that employing one of the identified control methods is often not successful to kill the extensive root systems of Phragmites and its incredible vigour rates. It is recommended that at least 3 of the 5 identified methods be employed harmoniously to ensure project level control and success.

Stewardship

Since the beginning of the project in 2014, Youth engagement has been a cornerstone. The Norfolk Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) provides labour in planting native seed materials as required. The MNRF’s Youth Stewardship Rangers will participate again this year helping with manual removal of Phragmites plants in areas where standing waters exists.