Phragmites control program successful

ESCANABA — Recent efforts to eliminate Delta County’s populations of phragmites — an invasive plant species which has become common in the area — have been highly successful, according to Delta Conservation District (DCD) Executive Director Rory Mattson. These efforts are expected to continue through the fall of 2017.

A few years ago, the DCD and other organizations began grant-funded efforts to chemically treat phragmites populations in the area.

“We’ve probably … got about 98 percent of it (treated) on the lakeshore in Delta County,” Mattson said. He noted that this was a far better result than the DCD was hoping for — they were expecting to treat just 75 percent of this population.

According to Mattson, the DCD was assisted in their efforts by natural factors. He noted Lake Michigan’s water movement and ice formation have removed at least a quarter of the phragmites on the county’s lakeshore and the lake’s high water levels have prevented new phragmites populations from becoming established.

“With the high water levels of Lake Michigan, it tends to (drown) out the phragmites,” he said.

Mattson said the DCD is currently planning their final round of phragmites treatments, which will begin in August and run until the end of October. Their focus will be on treating the remaining two percent of phragmites along the lakeshore and any inland populations of phragmites.

“We’re in the last year of our grant that we got through the State of Michigan,” Mattson said.

Mattson urged any Delta County landowners who are still dealing with phragmites to get in touch with the DCD as soon as possible.

“This might be one of their last chances to get it funded,” he said.

After their treatment efforts have concluded, Mattson said the DCD plans to continue monitoring the lakeshore.

“We’d like to keep an eye on it,” he said.