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Phragmites 2007

Fall-Winter 2007


Thank you to all who participated in our 1st of many Phragmites control efforts or theSave our Shores Program.  We are in the process of putting into place a revised 2008 treatment program which should be smaller in scope than our initial treatment last September.  Brian Mastenbrook from the MI DNR has again offered his assistance with obtaining permits and the selection of the treatment company.  He hopes to expand treatment to Garden and High Islands where small stands have been detected. The townships are addressing concerns of all Phragmites infected property owners participating in the program. The intention is to make the treatment as effective as possible while protecting the sensitive beaches which support the water quality of the Great Lakes along with wildlife habitat. In addition, property values can be affected which has the potential to erode Beaver Island’s tax base.  It is with this in mind that the Beaver Island Association remains committed in their support of the project through all means necessary.

Research indicates that the seed heads may be more viable than previously thought.  Seeds are shed in late winter and the seeds remain dormant until April/May in our area. The stalks of Phragmites die yearly.  The new growth comes from the root system. All the stalks, which we see along our shoreline, are dormant dead material.  It is expected that late May, green plants will not be flourishing in treated areas.  A survey of treatment results is already planned with DNR, townships, SEAS, and BIA’s representative.

Bob Williams from Harsen’s Island is also battling Phragmites and offers the suggestion of using a 3.5” carbide circular saw blade on his weed whacker.  This devise is similar to a tree or limb trimming saw.   Upon property owner’s return, please inspect your shoreline.  Remove all dead material. Please take care not to disturb the soil while cutting and removing seed heads.  You may bag the seeds heads or place in small pile such as a fire pit and burn. One of the recommendations from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for larger denser stands is a tool called prescribed burn.  It is only effective after an herbicide has been applied.  If a burn takes place without the Phragmites being treated with an herbicide it will actually stimulate growth.  Prescribed burns are to remove dense dead patches of Phragmites that may be a fire hazard next summer.  It will remove stems and thatch and allow native species to regenerate.  It will also make it easier to spot treat new growth.
If you had a significant stand on your property, it may prove advantageous to contact the fire department and participate in a prescribed burn this winter.  Always check with the fire department first.  Tim McDonough or Jim Wojan will be happy to discuss the options with you. This plant burns extremely hot and a burn should not be undertaken by untrained people. More information can be viewed at Michigan Prescribed Fire Council at or 
Again, a wealth of Phragmites information can be found at the BIA produced website:

Pam Grassmick


The entire Beaver Island community can high five each other for pulling together as we battle to save our shoreline from invasive phragmites. As you are all aware, BIPOA has worked years to educate Islanders about this threat. We recognized that Beaver Island had much at stake. Once phragmites is established, it decreases the biodiversity of native plants and animals and impacts the health of the Great Lakes. There was the potential to lose five endangered or threatened species. With the degradation of our beaches come decreased property values and ultimately the erosion of our tax base. Tourism and hunting dollars could have been affected also. John Works, Don Vyse and both township boards are to be commended for working tirelessly on the SOS Project. Today we are 27.2 acres lighter, which is the area that the Superior Environmental And Aquatic Services treated. Property owners will continue to notice their stands dying and turning brown through the fall as the herbicide moves through the root system. Professionals and researchers who work in the area of phragmites control have reviewed photos and the evaluation process will continue through next year. As we all knew going into this as a community, it will be an ongoing fight. Plans are already in the process for the 2008 fall treatment. The coastal shoreline will need to be reassessed and changes based on data and thoughtful review will be put into place. BIPOA will pursue policy changes within the DEQ which will address bottom land issues regarding treatment in areas severely affected by low lake levels. There is much work yet to be accomplished but for now we need to say thank you to our townships, thank you for your faith and funding of this project, thanks to all the various educational opportunities, and Brian Mastenbrook from the Michigan DNR who was an essential member of the team. The SEAS treatment group also deserves recognition for their sensitivity and attention to our fragile coastal wetlands. Please look for opportunities to serve with this project next year as we request help from volunteers this spring.

 Pam Grassmick
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