Ontario Supports Environmental Action in Niagara to Protect and Restore the Welland River

Fenwick – The Ontario government is investing $55,490 in a rapid response program to remove European Water Chestnut from the Welland River through the Great Lakes Local Action Fund.

Detected in slowing moving sections of the Welland River between Wellandport and Fenwick in 2020, European Water Chestnut is an aggressive invasive aquatic plant which poses a threat to sensitive watersheds and wetlands. Led by the Invasive Species Centre, an Ontario-based non-for-profit environmental group, with support from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, local volunteers have been busy identifying and removing the invasive aquatic plant before it goes into seed to survive and multiply in the following growing season.

“European Water Chestnut is an aggressive invasive aquatic plant which poses a huge threat to Great Lakes coastal habitats, recreation and the economy,” said Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

“This funding from the Great Lakes Local Action Fund will help the Invasive Species Centre protect the Welland River and prevent the dispersal of seeds from the local watershed into the Great Lakes.”

“Through this investment, we are supporting innovative projects led by Ontario municipalities, community-based organizations, conservation authorities, small businesses and Indigenous communities that are protecting and restoring the Great Lakes and their connecting waters,” said Hon. David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

“Project grants from the Great Lakes Local Action Fund are helping communities and organizations promote environmental stewardship and take action in their own backyards.”

“The Invasive Species Centre, and our partners, are pleased to receive support through the Great Lakes Local Action Fund to help continue our efforts to eradicate European Water Chestnut in the Welland River in 2023,” said Colin Cassin, Policy Manager with the Invasive Species Centre.

“This provincially regulated species is known to decrease local biodiversity, including species at risk, in other waterbodies where it is established. Early detection and rapid response are vital to preventing the establishment of invasive species and protecting Ontario’s biological diversity and other natural assets such as the Welland River.”

European Water Chestnut grows from seed settled on river bottoms. Plants emerge in late June and form rosettes on the top of the water. Rosettes are a light, shimmering green measuring up to 30 centimeters in diameter and can be found in clusters or floating alone. The dense floating leaves of the plant can shade out the water below, killing native vegetation and subsequently reducing water oxygen levels.

The Welland River project is one of 38 community-based projects to receive $1.9 million in funding from the Great Lakes Local Action Fund.