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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Stepping up the Fight Against Phragmites

Grey County | by Matt Villeneuve  

County approves a motion for coordinated effort to 'snuff-out' phragmites.

Phragmites are plaguing rivers, ditches, farmland and beaches in Owen Sound and throughout Grey County -- and the upper-tier is keen for action.

County Councillors on Tuesday approved a motion from the Mayor of West Grey, Kevin Eccles, requesting a coordinated effort to 'snuff-out' the invasive weed.

It also requests that staff identify and report on the local impact of phragmites, along with the government agencies attempting to limit its spread.

Eccles, who is also a County Councillor, says phragmites "choke" municipal drains causing flooding and jeopardizing agricultural and crop production.

He tells Bayshore Broadcasting News a joint undertaking between other upper-tiers, the province and possibly the federal government is beneficial.

According to Eccles, the challenge with fighting phragmites in Ontario is that the weed often grows near water-ways, an area where spraying herbicides is banned.

Owen Sound, for example, has spent about $50,000 mulching and burning the reed -- but the plant has rebounded after each extermination attempt.

Eccles says Essex County is trying to develop a strategy to combat phragmites.

A provincial website states the aggressive plant is native to Europe, and has been damaging Ontario's ecosystems for decades.

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