Monthly Archives: September 2013


This photo shows some of our – mainly volunteer – crew, getting ready to start work on High Island.

Effective herbicide treatment of invasive Phragmites must occur in the first two weeks of September. It is ineffective later, when the plant goes dormant. It cannot be applied in the rain.

The list of workers waiting to treat the outer islands this year was not long; every participant was important.

  • Dave Blanchard
  • Annette Dashielle
  • Stan Eagle
  • Dawn Elzey
  • Jim Flanagan
  • Lynn Flanagan
  • Pam Gerecke
  • Brian Grassmick
  • Pam Grassmick
  • Pam Hilton
  • Christine Miller
  • Eric Naraanjo
  • Marc Seeley

Conflicts with the holiday weekend,  winds and weather had already delayed their work by a couple days, yet loyal volunteers waited by their telephones for the “go-ahead”. They then convened at the harbor early in the morning for a two hour boat ride followed by a day of back-breaking labor. Then, most of them repeated this on two other days, on Garden Island.

The monetary value of the volunteer effort – which can count as local contribution toward “matching funds” when requesting grant funding – has been estimated at $25,000.00!

This next photo shows Hansen’s Island (not a part of our archipelago!) where invasive Phragmites has taken over the shoreline.

Considering that, I’d say the volunteer contribution is priceless!




This photograph, taken by his wife Pam, shows Brad Grassmick “looking for the lake” in a very healthy stand of invasive Phragmites.

I’m happy to say the photo was not taken here on Beaver Island or any of our surrounding islands. I’m including it here to show what could happen, if this invasive species were allowed to grow, unchecked.  The next photo shows how it can take over the shoreline.


Here on Beaver Island, where treatment has been successfully underway for a few years now, our stands of invasive Phragmites are much less intimidating.  The next photo shows early Phragmites. This is where we are at in most areas in this archipelago.


This year’s treatment was successfully completed. Reports are being put together. While waiting to have all of the information together before posting it here, there are a few things I want to get out right now.

Thank You!

  • To the Grand Traverse Bay Band, for the survey they completed for us last Spring. This was a priceless contribution to our efforts to know and treat this invasive species.
  • To the volunteers who gave their time and energy, bravely facing down poison ivy and uneven terrain, enduring delays caused by wind and weather, and working tirelessly in all conditions at this extremely un-glamorous but worthwhile task.
  • To the team hired this year to provide treatment, for handling this job in a diligent and professional manner, going out of their way to be thorough and informative at every step.
  • To Pam Grassmick, for her tireless efforts to coordinate every aspect of this effort.

There are names and numbers and specific credits to be given. As soon as I have all of the facts, have double-checked to make sure of spelling on names and  know that I’m not leaving anything or anyone out, I’ll post that information. Meanwhile, work goes on.

What You Can Do:

  • Consider donations of time or money. Our efforts are funded by grants. Every grant application wants to see “matching funds”. This assures them that our cause is supported by the community. Every hour that volunteers work to treat Phragmites on our islands is documented, and has a monetary value. Of course, donations of money are always appreciated as well.
  • The team working on treatment this year noted growth patterns of new plants in relation to stands of previously treated (dead) Pragmites. They concur with current ideas that seed heads might be playing a larger role than initially believed, in the spread of the plant. If you are a property owner, and have Phragmites on your land, you can help by removing the seed heads. This procedure was advised: Cut the stalk and gather the seed heads in a metal bucket, then burn them.
  • Pick up and dispose of treatment signs. This year, workers covered miles of difficult terrain with heavy backpacks. Their days were long. Signs were put up in all treatment areas, dated and time stamped, to warn people away for the four-hour “active treatment” period. The team asked that we just put the word out, that signs can be picked up and thrown away. This saved them from having to retrace their steps.


Thank You!

It seems that I, Cindy Ricksgers, now hold the position of “Phragmites Administrator” for Beaver Island.

The more I learn about the invasive Phragmites that we are battling here, the less I like the title. It’s kind of like being “administrator of dread disease” or “person in charge of blight and disaster”.

In fact, the non-native, European strain of Phragmites could very well spell disaster for our native plants and wildlife, our beaches, our tourist industry, and life as we have known it on this island.

It has that potential.

We are not going to let that happen.

For that reason – though I don’t like the title – I very much like the job.

For the last several years, Pam Grassmick has coordinated and spearheaded efforts to stop the spread of this giant, aggressive grass on Beaver Island and the other islands in this archipelago. She is a wealth of information! While driving to treatment sites recently, she rattled off names and places, problems and solutions, dates and deadlines faster than I could write. I’ll have to get back with her to flush out my notes.

It is evident, though, that we have the best information available, the support of the community and some very good people working on this.

In addition, we are making progress.

I am confident that we can win this fight!

I’ll be posting here with news, plans and ideas. There will be information about how to report Phragmites when you find it, and  how to help with time or money.

Please bookmark this link, and check back often.