Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

On Thursday, November 15th, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists 2018-19 series “Earth, Water, Wind and Fire” continues with a presentation by wildlife biologist Ken Allison, local Lanark County resident and former President of MVFN and the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club.

When Ken spoke about roadside and aquatic invasive plants in his “Green Aliens in Lanark County” presentation in 2012, invasive Phragmites, did not seem to be on this invasive plant expert’s radar.

However, during his upcoming presentation, Ken will focus on this plant, (Phragmites australis subspecies australis), one of the worst aquatic invasive plant species there is. He will explore the features of a healthy wetland, before leading us into the unhealthy realm of a wetland invaded by these disruptive plants!

Learn from Ken how to identify this plant and distinguish it from native Phragmites (Phragmites australis subspecies americanus) and other invasive plants, and how to deal with them on your property.

Ontario Phragmites Working Group: “When attempting to manage and control invasive Phragmites, it is important to first determine if the plants you are managing are the native or invasive strain of Phragmites. Native Phragmites is an important component of a healthy wetland ecosystem. It grows in marshes and unlike the invasive strain, does not typically develop into dense monocultures or degrade habitat quality.”

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and other groups are helping to map the distribution of this invasive species in Ontario. For more information visit https://www.eddmaps.org/ontario/

 

Speaker: Ken Allison, Wildlife Biologist

Presentation: The Worst Invasive Plant in Ontario Wetlands

Date:   Thursday, November 15, 2018

Time:  7:00 p.m. for socializing & refreshments, 7:30 for program

Place:  Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte

Admission is free for MVFN members. There is an admission fee of $5 for non-members. No charge for youth 18 and under. We always welcome new members.

For further information, please contact Cliff Bennett MVFN Program Chair at or 613-798-6295.

 

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NOTE: the new date for this planned event did not reach the level of registration required, and has been cancelled.

Paddle the creeks and bays of Mississippi Lake and take part in year two of this project. Working in conjunction with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) and the Mississippi Lakes Association (MLA), we will take part in a survey of invasive aquatic plants.

Our aim is to canoe all seven creeks which flow into the lake, collect samples of five known aquatic invasive species and report back to the MVCA headquarters.

Date: Saturday, July 30th (rain date August 13)

Time: 8:30 AM – approx. 2:30 PM

Meet at: Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority headquarters, 10970 Highway 7, Carleton Place, for donuts and coffee, orientation and reporting kits. Crews will be assigned to a specific creek area.

Bring: You will need the usual required canoe equipment, lunch, a pen or pencil, sunscreen etc

To register, or for more information please contact David Garcia at  613-256-6299  or via email  If you have a canoe and need a partner, or if you would like to partner with someone who has a canoe, let us know at the same time.

Schedule:

  • 8:30 AM meet at MVCA for coffee and donuts (MLA has budget for this)
  • Presentation on Invasive Species by MVCA specialists, information about how to fill out forms, etc.
  • Handing out of kits, directions to paddling access points, etc.
  • Leave between 9:15 and 9:30 AM
  • Return to MVCA around 1:15- 1:30 PM, have a late lunch (bring your own)
  • Staff will sort through the results and do a quick summary presentation of results.
  • End around 2:30 PM
  • A comprehensive report will be written up and sent to all participants, and a copy will be published in Mississippi Belle Online
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MVFN has written a letter of concern to Lanark County, expressing our opposition to their plans to carry out herbicide spraying in 2017 of approximately 350 km of roadsides along County (and Township) roads, in an effort to control the presence and spread of wild parsnip, as well as other noxious weeds.  This letter follows from a similar letter sent in 2016.  A map and table showing the roads where spraying is planned or has been completed can be found on the Lanark County web site at http://www.lanarkcounty.ca/Page1875.aspx.

MVFN is concerned that spraying, particularly boom spraying, of a general herbicide (Clearview) to control wild parsnip will detrimentally affect many other species of flowering plants that provide food for insects and birds.  We also feel that, even with careful application, there is a risk of the herbicide entering streams and wetlands where it is known to be highly toxic to aquatic organisms.  An active ingredient of Clearview (aminopyralid potassium) cannot be considered readily biodegradable and so may persist in the environment and transport into groundwater.

MVFN is of the opinion that the County should focus its efforts on wild parsnip control through non-chemical means, particularly mowing at appropriate times of the year, and carry out a more comprehensive public information campaign that will lead to risk reduction through education.  No matter the scale of our efforts, wild parsnip, like poison ivy, will always be with us and we should deal with its presence through education and mechanical control, not through the widespread application of herbicides.

To learn more about wild parsnip, and how property owners can control it, please go to this Mississippi Mills link:

http://www.mississippimills.ca/en/news/index.aspx?newsid=ea222f68-22bb-4b3e-857a-3bfe39d4a2ed

Here is the MVFN Letter of Concern that was sent to all Lanark County Councillors: MVFN-letter-to-LC-spraying-2017.pdf

Photos below are of wild parsnip plants at various stages of development. Learn to recognize the plants and avoid them.

 

WildParsnip

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On July 10th, 2016, members of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists participated in an invasive aquatic plant  monitoring exercise on Mississippi Lake.  In the morning participants attended a short presentation, at the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority office, on invasive plant species possibly present in the lake. They were also briefed on sampling protocol and were provided with field kits.  Participants then split into groups and went to five different locations on Mississippi Lake (Kinch Bay, Kings Bay, McGibbons Bay, McEwen Bay and Innisville Rapids) to search for invasive species. Four species of invasive plants were found, including Curly-leaf pondweed, European frogbit, Purple loosestrife and Invasive Phragmites.  This should not be considered an exhaustive list of all invasive plants that occur in Mississippi Lake.  The purpose of this monitoring exercise was to increase awareness through community involvement and to hopefully inspire similar initiatives in the future.

Invasive Plants Found
Curly-Leaf Pondweed (Potamogeton crispus) Locations: McEwen Bay & Innisville Rapids Abundance: ScatteredCurly-leaf pondweed European Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)Locations: McGibbons Bay, McEwen Bay, Kings Bay, Kinch Bay Abundance: Scattered; Dense in Kinch BayFrogbit
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)Location: McGibbons Bay Abundance: Single PlantPurple loosestrife Invasive Phragmites (Phragmites australis subsp. australis)Location: Innisville RapidsAbundance: Single PlantInvasive Phragmites

Volunteers also returned with samples of native plants, including coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum), northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum sibiricum), sago pondweed (Stuckenia pectinata), common waterweed (Elodea canadensis), common duckweed (Lemna minor), star duckweed (Lemna trisulca), flat-stemmed pondweed (Potamogeton zosteriformis), water marigold (Bidens beckii), spotted joe-pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) and pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata).  In many instances, northern watermilfoil and coontail were mistaken for European watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), and common waterweed was mistaken for hydrilla.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks go, to Jim Tye of the Mississippi Lake Association for organizing the event and bringing all parties together; to Cliff Bennett and David Garcia of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, for promoting the initiative within their organization; and to the Mississippi Lake landowners who allowed volunteers to launch canoes from their properties.

 

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A group of local people, including some MVFN members (and maybe you too!)  have a lot of questions about the decision of  Lanark County to begin a herbicide spraying program. The County has posted notice that it will begin or has begun spraying county roads (not all roads and not all municipalities within the County have yet been scheduled for spraying) with the herbicide ‘Clearview’ (active ingredient Aminopyralid) in order to stop the spread of the invasive plant, the wild parsnip.

The group is investigating the justification for spraying and the protocol of the ‘trial’ program, with a view to asking the County and local municipal councils within the County to look for alternatives to such a broad-stroked killing of plants and to encourage local governments to better educate the public about wild parsnip.

One problem with this practice is that all virtually all plants are likely to be affected with the exception of grasses. This includes milkweed which has become a common sight in ditches in the area. Milkweed was recently removed from the noxious plant list in Ontario and is the sole food plant of the larvae of the Monarch butterfly, which is a species listed of special concern on the Species at Risk list risk in Ontario. Also at risk are the many other invasive and native ‘weeds’ which are food and nectar sources for many insects during the summer.

To address human health concerns of the herbicide the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit has posted a notice of a meeting tomorrow night in Perth: see the meeting details below.  If you can go to this meeting and relay your comments back via MVFN it would be appreciated. Ask them how many cases of wild parsnip they have treated. How much has the county spent on education?  If you have comments and questions for your local council or municipal staff about this practice, which may be taking place in your municipality now or in the coming years, we encourage you to please contact them.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC MEETING: The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit is hosting a public meeting on Wednesday, July 8 at 6 p.m. to discuss the public health perspective of the controlled spraying of Clearview in Lanark County. The meeting will be chaired by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paula Stewart at the Lanark County Administration Building in Perth (99 Christie Lake Rd.). The purpose of the meeting is for the health unit to respond to some public concerns regarding the weed-spraying program. It will consist of a welcome and introductions, a review of the purpose of the meeting and an overview of the public health perspective on the importance of controlling noxious weeds and the Public Health Officer report on the health impacts of the herbicide. It will also include an overview of the Health Canada and Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change role, including approval of product with restrictions and MOECC response to any environmental concerns raised by community. For more information, visithttp://www.healthunit.org/

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