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MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                          April 14, 2021



$42,200 OTF Grant sets up the Near North Enviro-Education Centre (NNEEC) for outstanding effort in Phragmites removal 


Sundridge, ON - Phragmites, an invasive plant, has been present in Lake Bernard and the surrounding area for more than 20 years and in recent years, it become more aggressive, consuming the habitat of native plants, fish and reptiles. In addition, it also becomes rooted on land and changes the natural shoreline, taking over beaches and the adjoining landscape. An incredible group of volunteers, led by Marilee Koenderink has made huge advancements removing phragmites thanks to an initiative that is the result of the Near North Enviro-Education Centre receiving a $42,200 Seed grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) in 2019.


“Invasive phragmites is an aggressive, invasive plant. It is very destructive to our natural environments, wildlife, and to our infrastructure. It can also be a dangerous fire hazard. Across Ontario there are many initiatives to help combat the problem at the municipal and provincial level; however, the impact and importance of NGOs and local volunteers cannot be overstated. Committed individuals are often the driving force behind change and this holds true the development a strategic framework for invasive Phragmites management in Ontario. I am pleased to see the Ontario Trillium Foundation support this work locally,” said Norman Miller, MPP for Parry Sound–Muskoka.  


OTF provided crucial funding allowing the Phragmites Working Group (PWG) to mobilize a dedicated group of cutters, armed with the necessary equipment.  Twenty-three separate sites were tackled by a total 150 volunteers who removed huge amounts of the invasive plant.  The PWG was supported by the Township of Strong as well as the Village of Sundridge in the required removal of phragmites from each of the cutting sites. 


“I am delighted with the wide scale contribution of the people who live and cottage in the area.  Our volunteers ranged from young children to seniors all whom have a keen interest in keeping their natural environment healthy. We are ready to tackle year three with enthusiasm – set up for success by OTF,” said Marilee Koenderink, Chair of Phragmites Working Group. 


The Near North-Enviro Education Centre salutes all who gave their time and expertise to this important project. The results have been recorded and can now be shared as suggestions for other groups who are taking on the same challenges. OTF’s support expedited the progress and will set up the next attack to be an even greater success. 


About the Ontario Trillium Foundation: The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $115 million to 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.


About NNEEC: Centered in Almaguin, with the mission to help empower rural communities to become models for sustainable living by providing access to education, information and hands-on learning opportunities focused on these pillars.  To get involved in the 2021 cutting season and learn more, visit  



Media Contact:

Jocelyn Palm, NNEEC


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