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Province steps up 30-year effort to stop invasive species with announcement in Peterborough

08/17/2017

Province steps up 30-year effort to stop invasive species withannouncement in Peterborough

ByJoelle Kovach

Wednesday,August 16, 2017 7:24:23 EDT PM

Theprovincial Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kathryn McGarry, was inPeterborough on Wednesday - and while she was in the city, she attended acelebration to mark the 25th anniversary of Ontario's organized effort tocombat invasive species.

About30 people gathered behind the Holiday Inn to mark the silver anniversary ofOntario's Invading Species Awareness Program.

McGarrysaid the program has made significant strides in educating the public aboutinvasive species.

"Likezebra mussels. Anybody ever heard of those?" McGarry asked the crowd.

Perhapsyou know about zebra mussels, she said - but did you know about them 30 yearsago, as they were quietly invading Ontario's waterways?

Zebramussels are a "menace" that's clogging intake pipes and costing theprovince between $75 million and $91 million each year to manage, McGarry said.

Meanwhile,new menaces threaten to wreak havoc.

Asiancarp have already overwhelmed some waterways in the U.S., McGarry said, wherethey now make up over 95 per cent of the fish in some areas.

There'salso phragmites, a species of reed that can grow up to 15 feet tall; itthreatens to choke out wetlands and crowd out natural species on beaches acrossOntario.

Theawareness program gets people educated about these threats, McGarry said - andthat's valuable.

"Itmeans people across Ontario know what Asian Carp is. And what phragmites are.And what purple loosestrife is," she said.

Ontario'sInvading Species Awareness Program began in 1992 as a partnership between theprovincial government and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).Its first initiative was the Zebra Mussels Hotline, where people could call andreport the invasive species.

Nowthe hotline allows citizens to call and speak to an expert or report sightingsof all kinds of invasive species.

Over25 years, the program has started working with other non-profits as well asOFAH.

Thisyear, the province is investing $1.6 million to fund the projects that theprogram is carrying with its partners.

Those partners and projects include:
 

·       OFAH,in Peterborough (on Guthrie Dr.), which is working toward eradicating watersoldier in the Trent-Severn Waterway;

·       TheInvasive Species Centre, in Sault Ste. Marie, which is researching ways todeter invasive plants such as dog-strangling vine;

·       TheOntario Invasive Plant Council, in Peterborough (on Guthrie Dr., in the samebuilding with OFAH), which is helping cities develop their own strategies tomanage invasive species;

·       TheFederation of Ontario Cottagers' Association in Peterborough (on King St.),which is preparing a guide for cottagers called A Shoreline Owner's Guide toInvasive Species.


Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal (who is also the localMPP) said it's critical to keep invasive species out of Ontario's waters.

"Part of that cottage experience is getting up at 5 a.m. and enjoyingfishing on our pristine waters," he said. "The idea here is topreserve our hunting and fishing heritage."

JKovach@postmedia.com


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