Project: Partners in Preservation for Invasive Species Removal

Daniel Rieland of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust(OWLT) shares details about the Partners in Preservation for Invasive Species Removal program.

What is the geographic scope of the project?

Sheboygan, Washington, Ozaukee, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties in Southeast Wisconsin.

What type of project is this?

  • Education/outreach
  • Direct management

Why is Phragmites an issue in your area?

Phragmites is an invasive species that threatens Wisconsin wetlands and the Great Lakes.

Who are your partners in this effort? 

  • Southeastern Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, Inc. (SEWISC)
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

What are the funding sources?


What are the goals and objectives for this project?

The goal of the project is to control pioneer colonies of at least 4 invaders including but not limited to Phragmites, Purple Loosestrife, Lyme Grass, and Japanese Knotweed in six counties located along the shore of Lake Michigan in southeast Wisconsin. The project will strive to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species that are negatively impacting the region’s wetland and native habitats; and to develop an infrastructure of regional stakeholders to implement long term abatement measures to further reduce the spread or the re-occurrence of these species and other species. The project will take place in three phases which include an inventory, treatment and seeding, and an educational component to prevent recurrence. As a result, approximately 1,500 acres of wetland will be will be improved in a six county region and participating land trusts, county governments, and volunteers will receive resources for permanent success. An Important goal of this project is to organize processes, procedures and groups of people that will endure well beyond the project’s scheduled completion and encourage invasive plant control well into the future.

What type of land does your project target?

Wetland and riparian areas within the Great Lakes watershed.

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

Yes, the public and protected areas we will be focusing on will include areas already monitored by the OWLT or a partner organization.

What is the status of the program and are you seeing results?

We are currently in phase 1 of our project which entails developing an inventory of all currently identified infested areas. Within the next few weeks we will begin phase 2 which will involve in the field remediation projects.

This project is ongoing! Learn more by reading about each of the three Phases:

Phase One: Inventory and Treatment  

 to occur in the first year. Contractors will start by conducting a detailed mapping for the six counties to set a schedule for work. This inventory is needed to verify the absence of native plants that are subtly different from nuisance species. A system will be developed to prioritize sites for treatment that could include criteria such as potential threatened acres near each site, publicly accessible land or critical habitat areas threatened, and proximity to the COA project areas. Results of the field inventory will be organized in a GIS database, which will also serve to track removal efforts in Phase Two. Initial treatments will begin in locations that have been previously identified. Treatment will begin by summer or early fall 2013 using methods identified in Phase Two.


Phase Two: Treatment of the priority sites  

to occur in the first two years of the project. Work by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the project area has found the aquatic-approved herbicide HABITAT to be very effective (over 90%) on first-time Phragmites, Lyme Grass, and Japanese Knotweed applications during late summer. Phragmites is very susceptible to herbicide treatment after the plants have reached four feet tall and while they are actively growing by July or after the seed heads form in August. During the August and September window, plants are storing nutrients in the root system, improving uptake of the herbicide in the plant’s rhizomes. Treatment at full foliage has been found to reduce collateral damage to native species and improve restoration of native species.

Based on the inventories completed in Phase One, high priority sites will be targeted for chemical application in the first year of the project by OWLT staff and contracted licensed aquatic applicators to be selected through a competitive bidding process. Subsequent treatments will be conducted by OWLT staff and contractors for application to second and third priority sites in years two of the project period (and beyond). Subsequent treatments will allow for the opportunity to conduct follow-up applications from year one and two and provide for observation of techniques of application and contractor performance from previous applications. All treatments will be conducted in accordance with recommended procedures from the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin (IPAW) and the standard protocols of the DNR.

As a component of Phase Two, follow up action will be taken in order to ensure lasting control of the target species. This will consist of site re-vegetation and repeat treatments on surviving invasive plants in the year following initial treatment. It has also found to be effective to use these secondary inventories to identify nearby colonies or plants missed during the initial treatment. Two hired interns and OWLT volunteers using a backpack hand sprayer unit with an on-foot, thorough inspection of each site, will conduct the follow-up treatments.

Because we know that very few disturbed areas will regenerate satisfactorily in a reasonable time without assistance, the field applicators will seed with native species according to standard best management practices for wetlands. A properly managed re-vegetation program can ensure the effective return of the land to a self-sustaining condition. The activities to reduce invasive are intended to complement other practices addressing such things as erosion control, proper drainage, and protecting the initial investment in the infrastructure. These additional activities would be conducted through separately funded projects in concert with land trust and county land manager efforts.


Phase Three: Education and Prevention

to occur throughout the project duration. The project will include a prevention phase that will include workshops for municipal right-of-way managers and land trust professionals to encourage follow up and prevention practices. Coordination with this project will serve as the ground work to form or help expand existing regional Weed Cooperatives such as Southeast Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium, with an ultimate goal of the development of an infrastructure of municipalities and volunteers that continue the ongoing follow-up spot treatment of the sites and control future outbreaks.

OWLT will develop materials with assistance from Wisconsin DNR’s Invasive Species Coordinators and input from other experts (including practices approved by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and IPAW). A Wisconsin best management practices (BMP) manual will be adapted from these resources to create easy-to-read materials specific to local invasive species threats and soil conditions for ongoing use by public and private land managers. In order to minimize cost and prevent duplication this manual will be adapted for web based use and will proved hyperlinks to BMP sources. OWLT will also develop curricula for education of private and public land managers, develop materials for education sessions, and conduct the trainings in person.

Additionally, a voluntary educational component will be added to the project to engage new volunteers and groups into this effort. OWLT will work with other non-profit partners such as The River Alliance of Wisconsin (RAW), which has developed a tool to aid in the early detection of invasive species when it is still possible to isolate or eradicate the infestation. The RAW has developed a program called Project RED (Riverine Early Detector) to tackle this issue with volunteers. The Project RED training provides participants with the necessary tools to effectively monitor river and stream banks. The protocols are easy to follow and easily translated to multiple areas and populations. Trained participants then monitor their local water body by canoe, kayak, or on foot for 15 species of concern based on a mutually agreed upon schedule and location.