Project: Northeast Michigan Cooperative Weed Management Area

Huron Pines tells us about the work being done in the northeast portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula to address Phragmites.


Title: Northeast Michigan Cooperative Weed Management Area

Geographic Scope: 11 counties of Northeast Michigan – Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Presque Isle, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Roscommon.

Location: The majority of Projects are located along the Lake Huron coast in our service area.

What are the goals and management approach for this project?

Our goal is to help landowners protect their land from invasive species and make the best decisions about restoring what they have. We visit each site, help landowners make management decisions, and then return later in the year to treat the invasive plants. Most of our projects only require backpack spraying or hand-swiping, but we also have used contractors for large groups of landowners and heavily infested public lands sites.

handswiping image

Applying herbicide to Phragmites by hand. Image courtesy of the Northwest CWMA.

Do you monitor areas that you manage? If so, what does that entail? 

We ask that landowners sign a 10-year maintenance agreement for their invasive species removal project, and our team returns to each site every year until the invasive plant is gone or the landowners are confident they can monitor and treat any recurrences on their own.

What is the current project status, have you seen results?

So far, we have treated over 2/3 of the Phragmites in existence on the Lake Huron coast in Northeast Michigan. While the number of landowners and amount of acres covered increases each year, the remaining acres of Phragmites are decreasing. We experience an 80-90% success rate for individual patches and are beginning to see landowners drop off our list because they have been Phragmites-free for a few seasons. We work with a variety of landowners and are moving toward large group projects. We have also had great success with outreach—through presentations and print/online materials we have seen an increase in awareness about invasive species and where to go for help.

Can you tell us about some of the challenges you faced and share any important lessons learned?

We have been working for the past few years to try to get local governments involved in coordinating large-scale treatments. However, there are so many economic concerns in the region (several counties in Northeast Michigan are among the poorest in the state) and the Phragmites problem is so low on the priority list that it has been very difficult to get commitments from them beyond verbal support. In addition, many landowners just want clear beaches, and with the new beach grooming laws they are not willing to spend the time or money on spot treatment of one plant when they can just mow or bulldoze the entire beach (including beneficial native plants) and get what they want.

For more information explore the Huron Pines website or contact

Melissa Buzzard

Stewardship Specialist

Huron Pines

4241 Old US 27 South, Suite 2

Gaylord, MI 49735

(989) 448-2293 ext. 17

[email protected]