Group hosting meeting on invasive species 0
ELMVALE -- AWARE Simcoe wants to raise public awareness about the invasion of destructive alien plant species across Simcoe County.
The citizens' group is hosting a meeting Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at the Elmvale Arena to launch a county-wide effort to control and eradicate the plants.
"This is not just about public education," AWARE Simcoe vice-chair Kate Harries said. "This is about taking action on an urgent problem. Plumes of phragmites are waving along the edges of highways, glossy buckthorn and Japanese knotweed are spreading through the ditches and garlic mustard edges the paths in our forests and parks.
"All invasive alien plants displace native plants and trees and create areas devoid of the food and shelter required by native insect and bird species. Some, such as giant hogweed, cause painful rashes and can be harmful to humans. Volunteers in one municipality identified 35 giant hogweed plants last year, but the municipality did not address the problem until July. By then, those plants had set seed. Based on a count of 2,000 viable seeds per plant, it set the stage for 70,000 new plants this year."
Harries said municipalities are unaware of the extent to which the destructive alien species spread --so much that they are reaching a level that exceeds municipalities' capacity to respond in terms of finances and staff.
"That's why we want to involve the public, the province, municipalities and volunteer organizations in a county-wide response that could be modelled on the Adopt-a-Highway program," Harries said.
Panellists will include Bob Bowles, a naturalist and environm e nt a l consultant, Rachel Gagnon, co-ordinator of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, and Ericka Weisz, invasive species biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources. Others will also be taking part.
Harries said questions about invasive insect and aquatic species will not be addressed, but individuals can speak with panellists about those concerns after the meeting.