Grand Haven fights phragmites

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:59 PM

Where once thick, dense stands of the invasive phragmites stood, wildlife is returning: cattails, muskrat dens, and birds and aquatic animals.

“It is looking like it should instead of being taken over,” Grand Haven City Councilman Mike Fritz said.

Fritz, who remembers as a kid all of the teeming wildlife that could be found on Harbor Island, said the local Wetland Watch environmental group has done a “wonderful job” of restoring the island.

The island has been treated to eliminate phragmites in recent years, and a majority of the invasive plant has been defeated.

Leslie Newman, president of the Spring Lake-based Wetland Watch, said it’s good to see all of the progress that’s been made.

“We’re very appreciative of what’s happened on Harbor Island,” she said. “The first thing we saw was muskrat dens that people remembered from years ago.”

Despite the positive results on the island, local officials say there is still more work to be done.

“This is an ongoing effort,” said Joe Vander Stel, manager of the local water treatment plant. “If you go upstream, you still have some phragmites growing.”

There are locations around Harbor Island and upstream from U.S. 31 to Gidley Bayou that will need chemical control. The plan is to reach out to property owners and help them adopt successful control measures that have been used for several years in other areas, such as on Harbor Island and areas along the mouth of the Grand River.

Read the complete story in today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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