I recently caught up with Invasive Species Awareness Program volunteers who are members of a Grey-Bruce conservation group.
They were installing waist high platforms and frames featuring an attention getting billboard and a brush on the bottom of the frame.
You see these units walking the Bruce Trail, in parks and at boat ramps.
These are the Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association’s (BPSA) “Boot Scrubber” units. Launched five years ago this program has three aims.
One: to inform you of the increasing spread of invasives such as pharagmites, dog-strangling vine, knotweed, and goutweed.
Two: to encourage you to give your boots or shoes a good scrub on the sturdy built in brush, to prevent the spread of invasive species seeds.
Three: to make you think about what might be done to stop the spread of invasive plants that form dense colonies and aggressively compete with and force out native vegetation.
So far, BPSA volunteers have built and installed 75 “boot scrubber” units in and around the Bruce Peninsula. This is a team effort. Some building sessions involved as many as 10 volunteers.
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Municipalities, governments and conservation groups across North America are on the front lines of this battle against invasive plants. They are spending millions of dollars removing phragmites as seen recently at Oliphant and Owen Sound. Phragmites grows rapidly, robbing the water of life giving nutrients that choke out native plants and creatures large and small.
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The Invasive Phragmites Control Center reports: “When Phragmites is cut in deep water, the below ground sections can no longer receive oxygen that is provided by the stems. Depending on water depths, up to 100% Phragmites mortality is achieved after one comprehensive cut. Removal of large, dense Phragmites is facilitated using powerful cutting machines called Truxors.”
Invading species are a growing environmental and economic threat to Ontario. They are defined as plants, animals, and micro-organisms introduced by human action outside their natural past or present distribution, whose introduction or spread threatens the environment, the economy, and society including human health.
Over five years BPSA volunteers have installed seventy-five Boot Scrubber units. Another twenty-five are in the works to bring the total to one-hundred units. The aim? To ensure that all visitors to Grey-Bruce and locals, are aware of the seriousness of this issue.
So far more than a dozen corporations, organizations, municipalities and individuals have endorsed and supported this unique program. BPSA has received more than 27-thousand dollars in grants and donations supporting our Invasives Awareness Program. Two recent sponsors are the Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association and Georgian Bluffs Township.
BPSA “Boot Scrubber” Invasive Species Awareness Species program sponsors include: Union Gas, the Gosling Foundation, Bruce County Corporation, the Bruce Trail Conservancy, the Helen McCrea Peacock Foundation, the Grey-Bruce Community Foundation, McKenzie IDA Wiarton, Wiarton Outdoor Education Center, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula, SBP Financial Services, the Elliott Family, The Sydenham Sportsmen’s Association, and Georgian Bluffs Township.
Over the last two years it seemed that anywhere I visited in Grey Bruce, there was another “Boot Scrubber” unit.
At the 2019 Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular the Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Invasive Species Co-coordinator congratulated BPSA on its Boot Scrubber Program. Shawn Cayley said he wished more conservation organizations would launch similar awareness programs.
One OFAH zone chair called the phragmites invasion “one of the most serious and untold stories in Ontario.” He noted the fast growing noxious weed absorbs nutrients in waterways, eventually making it impossible for tiny creatures and even fish to survive. He too praised our BPSA Boost Scrubber program.
Our BPSA “Boot Scrubber Program” chair Jim Martell says “we aren’t trying to save the world. We are just trying to prevent the spread of these plants and make people more aware of them and get them to think about what society can do to keep them under control.”
BPSA is best known not for fighting invasives but for fish stocking. Since the sixties our community group has planted more than four million rainbow and brown trout and salmon in Southwest Georgian Bay. The 300 member BPSA was established in the sixties to “preserve and enhance fish and wildlife.” BPSA operates the longest running volunteer-run fish hatchery in Ontario.
We are members of the 40-member Ontario Community Hatchery Program (CHP) which is funded by the province and operated by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. Some of the costs involved with operating our fish stocking program are covered by the CHP.
BPSA boasts an active youth and adult archery program, a busy handgun club, youth and adult firearms training classes, and our tree planting program. The Bruce Peninsula Sportsmen’s Association was established in the sixties to “preserve and enhance fish and wildlife.” In 2020 we are celebrating fifty-eight years of service to the Grey-Bruce community. We always welcome new members.
For more info on BPSA please check our monthly newsletter