Port Franks Beach Phragmites australis Management; Habitat and Dune Restoration

Project lead: Port Franks Beach Homeowners Association and Lambton Shores Phragmites Community Group
Project type: Control
Geographic scope of project: Port Franks has 2 watersheds: the Ausable River and Mud Creek. Both of these watersheds were infested with Phragmites. Mud Creek meanders, changing course with the winds and rough water, hence the low lying swales provided perfect conditions for the Phragmites to take root. Monoculture patches of Phragmites were located on the beach on both sides of Mud Creek and in the sand dunes.
Location: Southeast Lake Huron shoreline between the Pinery Provincial Park and Ipperwash
Map: 43.2415 N 81.8687 W
Funding and support provided by: • The Port Franks Beach Homeowners Association (120 members) owns this beachfront property and initial Phragmites control efforts were paid for by the association and the adjacent Windsor Park Association (WPA). While Phragmites was not located on the Windsor Park Beach, it was recognized by the WPA that it would be just a matter of time before their beach became infested.
• The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation completed a species inventory and oversaw the project
• The Municipality of Lambton Shores contributed half of the money as the beach is enjoyed by tourists and all residents of Port Franks
• 7 Volunteers assisted with all aspects of the work (back pack spraying, hand wicking, cutting and burning).
• 3 volunteers received their technician’s certification supervised by the contractor (Frank Letourneau- Habitat Restoration Specialist, Dover Agri-Serve Inc.)
• Local schools planted dune grass following the herbicide application, cutting and burning.
Impact of Phragmites in area: Phragmites presented a threat to the beach dunes, caused habitat loss along Mud Creek, and also interfered with the recreational use of the beach. It created a potential fire hazard. Property owners were seeing their property values reduced and subsequently took their own actions to control the Phragmites without using proper practices. Often these actions were counterproductive resulting in further frustration. Attempts to cut seed heads were very labour intensive and did not stop the spread.
Goals and objectives: To eradicate Phragmites on the beach and the mouth of Mud Creek restoring a healthy dune system.
Current and future monitoring: • Volunteers continue to monitor and touch up the area with the Letter of Opinion from the MNRF still in place
• We feel spading could control the remaining few plants
Status of the program (results): In the first year we saw 90-95% of the Phragmites eliminated. In the years following, touch up work was paid for by the cottage associations and donations from area residents.
Challenges / Lessons learned: • Apply for a 5 year permit from the MNRF.
• Obtaining permits (Letter of Opinion) can take time.
• There is a very narrow window of opportunity and all work is weather, water and wind dependent.
• Need appropriate tools for over water use as in the US.
• Phragmites was located on a beach which is visited by thousands of people in the summer months so work was scheduled to begin after Labour Day.
• Educate the public- hold information sessions and include experts in the program, be available to answer questions, communicate by newsletter, post signs, involve the press
• Eradication work is very labour intensive and most volunteers are retirees.
• Create partnerships.
• Take a landscape approach.
Additional information:

Special thanks Frank Letourneau (Dover Agri-Serve) and Geoff Peach (Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation) for donating their time to get this project started and to the Municipality of Lambton Shores.

For more information: Lambton Shores Phragmites Community Group