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Phragmites control

phragmites seed head late fall

Throughout the Charter Township of Shelby, Macomb County and much of southeast Michigan, phragmites australis is an increasing concern as the invasive weed threatens the ecological health of wetlands and the Great Lakes coastal shoreline. Invasive phragmites creates tall, dense stands which degrade wetlands and coastal areas by crowding out native plants and animals, blocking shoreline views, reducing access for swimming, fishing, and hunting.

 

Engineers from Fazal Khan and Associates, the Shelby Township Engineer, advise that the removal of the plant requires a combination of herbicide treatments, cutting, harvesting, flooding and potential controlled burns. And these treatments must be completed at strategic times throughout the year to avoid the spread of this invasive species further downstream. 

 

The presence of phragmites throughout the Township has been growing, especially in the areas of county drains and throughout many of the Township parks. The Township has been actively working to eradicate Phragmites within a wetland restoration area within Gene Shepherd Park that is threatening to make its way into the Clinton River. 

 

With the majority of the problem being located within Macomb County Drains funding is a critical issue. Macomb County Drains do not have a maintenance fund and therefore are typically maintained through the establishment of a Special Assessment District (SAD) in which the residents petition the Township for the establishment of an SAD and agree to share in the cost of completing any required maintenance work. Residents must collect signatures from at least 50 percent of the benefiting property owners in order to initiate the SAD process. 

 

For the past several years, the township has been actively seeking grant funding for the purpose of treating and eradicating the phragmites.  Most grant opportunities are only available to cooperative weed management groups.  Most recently the Township has joined the Lake St. Clair Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) to pool resources and increase the opportunity to receive grant funding. As a member of this CISMA, the Township has gained access to a number of resources for our residents. As part of our membership in the Lake St. Clair CISMA, we have been able to open doors to training and informational sessions for our residents.

 

The Township, through the CISMA, recently applied for grant funding that would allow us to map the existing stands of phragmites, development a treatment priority list and action plan to fund the treatment of phragmites, as well as begin the herbicide treatments on several areas throughout the Township. The grant request also included hosting a large number of onsite and webinar training sessions to educate residents on how they can help get this invasive plant under control. Unfortunately, the funding was all focused in the middle and northern reaches of the state. 

 

But the Township cannot tackle this problem alone. We need our residents to get involved. Clay Township, located on the St. Clair River just west of Algonac, has been working for over a decade to try and get the spread of phragmites under control. Clay Township has found that a strong, “boots on the ground” activity level from their residents has been critical to the success of their program. Part of this is becoming informed on the challenges posed by phragmites growth and the proper steps to manage the weed.

 

Residents can also find more useful information on phragmites management from the Clay Township Phragmites Management Advisory Board at www.claytownship.org/departments/phragmities_board or by calling (810) 519-2985

 

If you would like further information on phragmites or the Township’s role in managing this problem please contact my office at (586) 731-5154 or the Township Engineer at (586) 739-8007.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Rick Stathakis

Shelby Township Supervisor