Letter: A few clarifications on the Phragmites Project story

“Super happy” with the results of all of the hard work and volunteer sweat equity

To the Expositor:

Thanks for the coverage of the results of the Manitoulin Phragmites Project (‘Manitoulin Phragmites Project comes to a close,’ September 11, 2019). I read the article while writing a proposal for funding, in partnership with Manitoulin Streams, for one more year of work on phragmites. It would be silly to give up now when we’re so close to having phragmites under control Island-wide. So yes, the project has come to a close—but hopefully only for the season. There are also a few other items from the article that I’d like to clarify.

First of all, people have the impression that the Truxors are the key thing that the project does to control phragmites. Not so! The project has a team of four very hard working, dedicated field staff who are out in waders every day all summer in the water cutting and hauling out huge armloads of Phrag. The team is assisted by incredible volunteers and landowners who really care about Manitoulin Island and who are right in there with us getting wet, dirty, sunburnt and tired.

Also, about the Truxor cutting machines. We don’t rent these machines. They come from the Invasive Phragmites Control Centre (IPCC), a not-for-profit organization which is a partner of the Manitoulin Phragmites Project and which provides us with great in-kind support. We pay the IPCC for most of the cost of their coming to Manitoulin Island and for the staff to run them, but their funding allows them to have this type of operation at all, and they provide the service to us at the lowest possible cost.

And then about the cost of the Truxors. You think $7,000 per day is expensive? It definitely is not! These machines can handle a gigantic amount of phragmites for that price, compared to what it would cost with human labour. Thus, the Truxors are hugely cost-effective, and they can deal with patches of phragmites much larger than manual labour ever could handle. Fortunately, we don’t have many areas that require this type of work.

Finally, another question I keep getting: at that price for all those days, couldn’t we just buy a Truxor? Answer: no way! The Truxors are very specialized machines bought in Sweden and brought through customs by the IPCC. The cost of one machine alone is well over $100K. On top of that, it takes a 20’ trailer to move the machines, a truck capable of hauling them, technically savvy staff to operate them and keep them running, and somewhere to store all this equipment when not in use. So—thank you IPCC for all you give us!

At this point, I’m super happy with the results of all the work that has been done to date. It’s a real pleasure to go around this Island and not see phragmites everywhere. If you go to Windsor or Walpole Island or down Highway 400, you’ll understand how valuable it is to have Manitoulin’s shores and wetlands phrag-free. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated, sweated, cut phrag, come to slide shows, gotten the neighbours out to work, and even just shared about the Phragmites Project on social media. Please stay tuned for one more summer.

Respectfully yours,

Judith Jones, co-ordinator

Manitoulin Phragmites Project