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Phragmites Update 2009

Beaver Island’s Phragmites project has been presented and discussed on various levels across Lake Michigan, Lake Charlevoix, and northern Lake Huron. Based on the positive Beaver Island results for a rapid response to an invasive species such as Phragmites, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will offer other communities similar township/county wide permits for herbicide treatment thus allowing for large tracts of shoreline owners to participate. In addition, it is expected that funding will be flowing from Washington for work in preserving our state’s coastal wetlands.

It cannot be left to government intervention alone to solve the precious wetland crisis. It will necessitate that property owners fully understand the consequences of their stewardship practices in terms of habitat, water quality, and enjoyment of our Great Lakes. Examples of constructive Phragmites programs being undertaken can be found at Kelly Martin from the Charlevoix Conservation District has put together a wonderful web site.

The Grand Traverse Watershed Council hosted a Grand Traverse Regional Phragmites workshop on June 6, 2009 and updates can be found at Also Huron Pines is developing a Cooperative Weed Management Plan for northwestern Lake Huron to target several invasive plant species, including Phragmites.

As for our little corner of the world, in January, a letter was signed by both township supervisors, requesting that those Beaver Island shoreline owners who did not have a current permission slip on file submit a new form. This letter and form can be found on The letter went on to discuss that as a last resort under last year’s adopted ordinance where invasive Phragmites is found, treatment action will be taken even without the owners’ consent but only after written notice is sent to the property owner’s tax address, public notice in local papers, and possibly court action.

We have had a tremendous return response from this request which will be used to update our GIS (Geographical Information System) maps for the 2009 island-wide survey. As you will recall, our first treatment year was so successful that 27.1 acres was reduced to 3 acres. In 2009, we expect acreage needing to be treated to be even less. Our 2009 SOS program is fully funded; no donations will be required.

During a recent planning conference call, Brian Mastenbrook from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources again offered his department’s assistance with the permitting and award of the bid. The next mass mailing will take place in August to shoreline owners outlining the anticipated treatment dates and the chemicals to be used. Last year, 80% of all Phragmites was hand swiped directly to the Phragmites plants. A meeting with the herbicide contractor will take place prior to herbicide application in late August. In addition, the DNR will also continue to treat the infestations on the outer islands.

The composition of the team may change from year to year but the same commitment to preserving our shoreline is evident. The townships have hired Jacque LaFreniere as the Phragmites Administrator for 2009. Beaver Island exemplifies the point that small isolated communities can achieve an ecological victory by working together. Every property owner that contributed any dollar amount or signed a permission slip to the Save Our Shoreline project should feel a sense of pride in this preservation project.

– Pam Grassmick



Phragwrites creator Dave Kellam had an online poll at his web site and the Beaver Island SOS Program was selected as the winner of the Phragwrites yearly donation. Phragwrites are pens made from the invasive stalks. The donation will go towards the continuing effort to control phragmites along our shoreline.



At the Grand Traverse County Phragmites meeting that was held on March 18, a radio piece was recorded for Interlochen public radio about the early detection and rapid response program in the Grand Traverse Bay area. They are focusing on educating local county and township officials around the GTBay area. Their goal is to work with townships in each NW county that border Lake Michigan and develop a survey, treatment and monitoring program for each township. Beaver Island’s phragmites program was described as a great success story that other areas can emulate as they set up their own programs to eradicate phragmites from their shorelines.

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