A giant reed grass, phragmites can grow as high as 15 feet and have underground stems as long as 60 feet. The plant overtakes and out-competes other vegetation.
According to Leslie Newman, president of the local Wetland Watch group, funding for the removal is coming from the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation’s Greatest Needs Fund, which distributed $30,000. Wetland Watch raised $7,000 to match the first year of treatment, and was aided by a donation from the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power.
Since such a large area was needing treatment on the island, Bowen said that they used an aerial attack from Hamilton Helicopters to take out large stands of phragmites on the island. Global positioning systems were used to accurately spray infected areas.
“He was here for an hour and sprayed nearly 46 acres,” Bowen said.
Once the helicopter pilot was done with aerial spraying, crews later came in and hand treated areas that were not sprayed.
“We are fairly confident that we got a good treatment,” Bowen said.
With the phragmites having been treated, local environmentalists are now looking at the next phase of the multi-year project: removing what has been impacted by the chemicals.
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