Using long-term monitoring to build partnerships and set management priorities

GLPC Editor’s Note: This case study showcases monitoring of Phragmites infestations and ecosystem impacts to determine the effectiveness of control methods and make data based decisions about future treatments.  


The Detroit River Western Lake Erie Cooperative Weed Management Area is located along the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie in Southeast Michigan

Author: Chris May

The Detroit River Western Lake Erie (DRWLE) Cooperative Weed Management Area (CMWA) covers a landscape dominated by industrial, agricultural, and urban development. However, over 10,000 acres of critical wetlands remain in conservation ownership along the Lake Erie coast from the Detroit River to the Michigan-Ohio state line. These wetlands provide economic, recreational, and ecosystem benefits to over 6 million people in the Detroit, MI andToledo, OH metropolitan areas.

Historically, the wetlands consisted of a diverse matrix of emergent marsh, open water, forested swamp, and sand coastline.  When the DRWLE CWMA began, thousands of acres of the coastal wetlands were dominated by a monoculture of non-native Phragmites, which, in places, created an impenetrable barrier more than 20 feet tall.

DRWLE CWMA Service Area

Together, the DRWLE CWMA and the Lake Erie CWMA cover the entire Western shoreline of Lake Erie

The DRWLE CWMA was established in 2011 to prevent and control invasive plant species in Monroe, Wayne, and the eastern half of Lenawee Counties in Michigan. The partners agreed to meet annually to discuss priority areas for management, and cooperate by sharing resources for mutual benefit.