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Phragmites

Phragmites australis, also known as Common Reed, is a large, coarse, perennial grass that is usually found in wetlands. Invasive, non-native stands can become so dense that the native wetland plants are eliminated. Phragmites does not provide valuable food and shelter for fish and wildlife that the native plant communities do. The plant has a thick stalk with a hollow stem that can reach almost 13 feet in height. Phragmites also has a large plume-like flower that persists throughout the winter. It will spread by seed or creeping rhizomes, but also has surface runners that form a dense mat of roots up to several feet thick. A single plant can spread up to 30 feet in one year! It occurs in every continent on Earth except Antarctica. It is most often found along roadsides in Northeastern Wisconsin. In the United States it is considered one of the most invasive plants in wetland communities.

Marinette County has participated in two large projects to control Phragmites along the shore of Green Bay.  In 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) obtained grant funding to treat approximately 735 acres of phragmites with herbicide via helicopter.  Marinette County staff performed mapping and outreach to landowners and the general public.
 
In 2014, Ducks Unlimited and the WDNR sponsored a follow-up herbicide treatment funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service grant.  Once again, Marinette County provided mapping and outreach services.  Unfortunately, a two-mile stretch of shoreline was unsprayed at the end of the season.  To complete this area, Marinette County expanded its involvement in 2015 to direct an herbicide treatment using a boom sprayer mounted on a tracked ground vehicle.  Approximately, 77 acres were sprayed. 
 
In 2016, for the last year of this project, Marinette County will direct an effort to treat any remaining phragmites in the control area.  Fortunately, high water levels and wave action continue to impact and reduce lingering phragmites.  It is important to note that while this three year project and shoreline conditions have drastically reduced the Phragmites, if left alone, they will rapidly return to the nuisance levels of a few years ago.  Continued vigilance and “maintenance” control will be necessary for the foreseeable future.


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