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Phragmites Update 2008

Fall-Winter 2008

While the Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan discusses the deteriorating trend of our coastal wetlands, Beaver Island can be proud as a community of our collective response to our vulnerable shoreline. The 2007 Phragmites eradication project (SOS) was very successful. This year, 80% of the remaining Phragmites were hand swiped vs. sprayed. We have gone from treating 27+ shoreline acres to approximately 3 acres in one year. In true Island spirit, this is cause for celebration!

In the hand-swiping process, the dye is not seen on the sand but rather on the stem of the plant. The blue green nature of the dye mixed with the herbicide can be very discreet on the greenish blue leaves, but, make no mistake, the herbicide is just as effective. Photos are available on our website as well.

Over 300 property owners entered into the treatment program voluntarily. Our shoreline presented many new growth areas and those were targeted so that seed heads did not establish. A map showing individual Phragmites sites on Beaver Island along with property owner information can be found at the Beaver Island District Library or on the BIA website.
The information returned from the JF New treatment team was very positive. They were grateful for the enthusiasm with which they were greeted along our beaches and commented on the Island residents’ comprehensive understanding of the Phragmites plants and the project. Shoreline owners met with the contractor, Don Vyse representing the townships and Pam Grassmick for the BIA on August 26th. This opportunity provided a chance to have questions answered. The response from those in attendance was very positive. You can expect this meeting to be repeated in the 2009 treatment year.

What can you as a property owner on Beaver Island expect over the next year? First, the Phragmites plants will be turning yellow as fall approaches. Those individuals who have Phragmites growing on their beaches and have not submitted their permission slips will be contacted by mail with a formal request from the townships prior to enforcing the Ordinance which was passed in August of 2008. If seed heads are present on your Phragmites plant, research tells us that the plant is at least three years old. As part of an ongoing monitoring program, another entire shoreline survey will take place in June of next year. Mapping of infestations and an evaluation of treatment areas will occur. Further community discussions will entail designing a sustainable treatment program.

As with programs of this type, maintenance will go along with shoreline restoration work. Cutting the dead stems can occur three weeks after herbicide treatment. Again, taking care to not disturb the soil, burn them on your property or bag and take to the Transfer Station. Please refer to the 2008 Spring Phragmites update on for further removal instructions.

Your stewardship of the Island’s beaches is testimony to the deep sense of community and commitment to preserve and protect our shoreline. I personally extend a note of thanks to each of you who have taken the time and energy to understand this program and the threat to Beaver Island. Your funding, along with the townships’ dollars, kept this program feasible. Another note of thanks to our township supervisors, Don Vyse and John Works, Jr., both of whom worked tirelessly to achieve another successful treatment season. Brian Mastenbrook, from the MI Department of Natural Resources, assisted in securing the permits and awarding the bid to a very professional treatment company, JF New. Brian also secured the funding for treatment of Beaver, High and Garden with a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Brian Kelly deserves honorable mention for his assistance with the maps from Charlevoix County’s GIS Office.

Stay tuned for Part III in the 2009 Phragmites saga.

– Pam Grassmick

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