Katie Grzesiak, Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network

March, 2014

Northwest Michigan is facing habitat challenges from invasive Phragmites, just like much of the rest of the Great Lakes. The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) is working to control Phragmites along the Lake Michigan shoreline and inland in Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee counties with good success.

The Grand Traverse Bay effort (ISN’s Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties, plus Antrim and Charlevoix) has the most time, funding, and concerted efforts under its belt. Early detection, outreach, education, and communication with local governments as well as land owners have been key components in this successful effort to control Phragmites. Partners have reduced invasive Phragmites on the Grand Traverse Bay shoreline by 78 percent over the past three years. In 2014, many stands are moving into a “maintenance phase:” monitoring the (greatly reduced!) existing populations and only treating every other year or as needed. ISN is now focusing Phragmites efforts on inland lakes and roadsides. Read more about this project here.

Before one year of herbicide treatment of invasive Phragmites on the Grand Traverse Bay. Photo courtesy The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.

In Benzie County, the Betsie River and Betsie Bay are major Phragmites concerns, spearheaded by ISN partner Friends of Betsie Bay. This fantastic grassroots effort has treated much of the Phragmites in the Bay itself, and is working with ISN to catch and treat outlier upstream populations before they grow larger and re-seed the treated areas at the river mouth. Partnership with ISN also gives this project the educational resources and experience of other ISN partners to make it as successful as possible.

Manistee County is the newest to Phragmites control, so prioritization is key. Before tackling the large populations (such as those in Manistee Lake), treatments are being focused on small satellite populations in the excellent habitats of the Little Manistee River and other areas throughout the county. ISN is also utilizing the momentum and support from other successful projects to energize the residents of Manistee County in defense of their fantastic natural resources and habitats to ensure longevity in this effort.

After one year of herbicide treatment of invasive Phragmites on the Grand Traverse Bay. Photo courtesy The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.

In addition to Phragmites, ISN has collaboratively chosen 20 species (Top 20 “Least Wanted”) of present invasive plants and several Early Detection/Rapid Response species as priority targets for invasive species control. Over 30 partners in 4 counties work together in ISN to protect, enhance, and promote northwest Michigan’s natural communities through terrestrial invasive plant management and outreach.

For more information, visit HabitatMatters.org or contact Katie Grzesiak at kgrzesiak@gtcd.org