Phragmites control in our parks

Last week was quiet on the blog. We were very busy doing stewardship work that can only happen during the late summer and early fall – treating Phragmites! This grass can rapidly invade wetlands, displacing all other species to create what we call a monoculture – habitat with only one plant species. This makes the wetland unsuitable habitat for wildlife.

One of the tools we use to track the success of our efforts is photo monitoring, which involves taking photos in the same place, at about the same time of year, for many years. In the photos below you’ll see our “zebra board” which has alternating 1 foot black and white stripes. This is the first year we’ve treated the Phragmites at O’Connor Nature Park, so you’ll see the dense stands in the pictures below. Phragmites can grow to be 15 feet tall!

Phragmites along Mead Rd. at O'Connor Nature Park.
Phragmites along Mead Rd. at O’Connor Nature Park. The Phragmites behind the zebra board is at least 10 feet tall. It is a huge grass, and walking in a dense stand of it can be a little intimidating!
DSCN0672
Another patch of Phragmites at O’Connor Nature Park.

It is fairly easy to treat patches of Phragmites when they are small. The best time to treat Phragmites is after it has started flowering, which is typically late summer or early fall. If the patch is in standing water at the time of treatment, you’ll probably need to get a permit from the Michigan DEQ. Check out the resources below to learn about how you can treat Phragmites on your property. The first is from the Oakland Phragmites Task Force and outlines the basic treatment methods and where to get the supplies you’ll need. The pamphlet also has instructions for ordering a small Phragmites treatment kit from the North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy. The second is from the Michigan DEQ and has lots of good info about identifying and treating Phragmites.

Links to brochures:

http://www.oaklandphragmitestaskforce.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/OPIS-smallscale-Tri-fold-FNL-lr.pdf

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-ogl-Guide-Phragmites_204659_7.pdf

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About Ben VanderWeide

I am the Natural Areas Stewardship Manager for Oakland Township Parks and Recreation in southeast Michigan. I have a doctorate in biology (focused on plant ecology) and I am passionate about protecting and managing natural areas.

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