FOCA Aquatic Invasive Species Program

FOCA’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program has supported over 50 associations in funding on-the-ground projects over the past five years. 

FOCA is very concerned about the potential impacts of introduced species and the effect they will have on our quality of life in Ontario. These invaders have proven to alter the environment, damage our economy, and negatively impact our communities.

FOCA has worked to support the Ontario Government’s commitments in its implementation of the Ontario Invasive Species Strategic Plan, and the Invasive Species Act. The program has promoted provincial Best Management Practices to FOCA members across Ontario aimed at reducing the risk of spreading invasive species in the province (primarily through the movement of watercraft).

Examples of projects completed:

Aquatic Invasive Species Identification

Many associations have been concerned that they may have an aquatic invasive species present on their lake and they did not have the expertise to confirm their suspicions. FOCA has been able to provide associations with expert advice and resources to assist in identification and next steps.

Example Pilot Project: The Eagle Lake Conservation Association was concerned about invasive stands of Phragmites on their lake. FOCA provided the association with an expert in aquatic invasive species identification that was able to confirm the presence of the invasive plant. The expert then generated a detailed report outlining what was found and next steps that should be taken in order to control and eradicate this invasive species. The report resulted in the Township taking more interest in the issue and correcting the viewpoint of some residents who had initially thought the vegetation was a native species.

Aquatic Invasive Species Education and Outreach

Some associations felt that they needed to educate their community about the potential impacts aquatic invasive species could have on their lake and what they should be doing to prevent their introduction/spread. Pilot Project participants held invasive species seminars, distribute invasive species awareness t-shirts or put up signage warning boaters to Clean-Drain-Dry their boat before moving to different bodies of water.

Example Pilot Project: The Scugog Lake Stewards worked with FOCA to design an aquatic invasive species sign that is specific to their community. The association knew how busy their local boat launch was on any given weekend in the summer and therefore felt that they needed to be educating boaters before they launched their boat. The sign will educate boaters from the community and all over the Greater Toronto Area that visit the lake.

Aquatic Invasive Species Eradication

A few Pilot Project participants were already at the stage that they could go ahead with aquatic invasive species management and eradication. Prior to starting any eradication efforts it is important to do your due diligence to see if any permits/special permissions are required.

Example Pilot Project: The Honey Harbour Association used their funds to purchase a Stihl Underwater Cutter that was used to eradicate stands of invasive Phragmites. The association organized community cuts on both private and crown lands. The association held information sessions about invasive Phragmites and how to use the underwater cutter. At the end of the Pilot Project 66 sites had been cut with the help of over 104 volunteers.

Community Boat Wash Station

Community boat wash stations are a great solution to preventing the spread of invasive species. It provides boaters with the tools they need to easily clean their boat prior to entering the lake and before leaving.

Example Pilot Project: The Lake Wahnapitae Home and Campers Association established a pilot program for boat hull washing and aquatic invasive species awareness at one of their local marinas. The association had access to a power washer and summer students through their partnership with the Wahnapitae First Nation. The summer student approached boaters preparing to load or unload boats at the launch and provided information on the risk of aquatic invasive species and the importance of washing your boat before moving to a different body of water. FOCA provided the association with Aquatic Invasive Species t-shirts that were given as token gifts to encourage boaters to participate. The Pilot Project ran for three weeks and approximately 15 boats were washed.

The FOCA 2017, and 2018 Aquatic Invasive Species Program initiatives were supported through a Transfer Payment Agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

Terry ReesFOCA Aquatic Invasive Species Program