Vigilance

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Terry Saxton has been watching a spot not far from his home on  the south end of Beaver Island. This September, when our team of specialists were here to administer herbicidal treatment, he took them to the site. Sure enough, it was a sizable stand of invasive Phragmites, that had made itself quite at home. Because the site was inland – and on private property – it had not been included in the survey last Spring of all public and beachfront land.

Jeff Powers was out near Donegal Bay about a month ago, gathering wild grapes. He noticed a suspicious-looking plant growing alongside cattails there. He snapped a few pictures, and sent them to Pam Grassmick. Pam forwarded them to me, and I went to investigate. Off the road, over the grapevines, through dense brush, down a long slope, and up to my knees in cold, swampy water, I found the plants he had noticed. Phragmites, sure enough. Definitely the invasive strain. Inland, and less than a mile from Donegal Bay!

I looked for signs that the Phragmites had been treated. Sometimes you can spot remnants of the blue-green dye that is added to the herbicide. No trace. Sometimes you can see spotting or streaking of the stalk that indicates the plant has been treated. Nothing that was obvious to my inexperienced eye. I cut three large stalks, to get another opinion. Sure enough, this is another area that will be on our list for treatment next year.

Last year, the Little Traverse Conservancy funded a huge survey of Beaver Island that covered public lands. It was a tremendous donation, and a huge help in our fight against this invasive wild grass.

To continue the effort, your vigilance can be very helpful, as these two examples show. There are many areas, wild, unoccupied and off the beaten path, that were not included because they are private holdings. Please be on the lookout, and inform us if you find suspicious growth. In this way, we can stop Phragmites here before it takes over.

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