Phragmites fight taken to the sky

Phragmites fighters took to the skies Thursday to combat the invasive plant that has sprouted along the Grand River.
Alex Doty
Sep 27, 2013

“I think that it was perfect weather,” said Leslie Newman, president of the local environmental group Wetland Watch. “We’re just doing what we can with who came on board.”

Hamilton Helicopters pilot Kurt Homkes hovered his craft over the lower Grand River area to spray dense invasive phragmites stands on several islands. He also sprayed areas along the eastern bank of the Lloyds Bayou channel.

“The helicopter is so light, so it can fly low,” Newman said. “There’s not a lot of overspray.”

The Thursday morning spray was part of a two-day effort to try eliminating the invasive plant.

“There was much more phragmites than expected,” Newman said, noting that the pilot was unable to complete the entire project Thursday after using up all of the spray solution and helicopter fuel.

Control group partners from Ottawa County Parks, Ottawa Conservation District, Cardno/JF New and Wetland Watch worked out details of the attack effort.

“As a parks department, we’re happy to be a part of this project,” Ottawa County Natural Resources Management Supervisor Melanie Manion said.

Manion said the county parks department has noticed the plant on some of its property, and is doing it’s part as well to treat and remove it.

“We know it’s futile if it’s not being treated around us,” she said.

Prior to Thursday’s spray, property owners were contacted and a majority agreed with permission and payments to conduct the fly-over. Property in the project area is owned by private individuals, a nonprofit group, Spring Lake Township and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“About $6,000 was the total (cost),” Newman said. “We got that by charging $40 per acre owned for each island owner.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


GH Cyclist

Imazapyr and glyphosate are the two most common herbicides used to control phragmites. Imazapyr is said to be more effective overall but that it stays active in the soil for longer periods of time and generally kills off native species in the area. Glyphosate is said to not be persistent in the soil but that it will also kill any native species that it comes in contact with and depending on how it is applied can have adverse effects on amphibians and fish. The use of glyphosate has also been linked to cancer, birth defects,and a number of other diseases in humans.

Are we as a community not concerned with the possible side effects of spraying poison? Can we stop this from going on in our town?


I agree with GH Cyclist one hundred percent, and is it not ironic that this is happening after a recent report that we should be concern about the safety of our drinking water, Great Lakes?

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