Vickie Smith, of Wildlife and Wetlands Solutions, will be applying an herbicide to stands of phragmites on Thursday beginning at 9:30 a.m., weather permitting. She’ll begin with the stands near the Luedtke Boneyard and proceed around to the Elberta M-22 and railroad/trail bridges, after noon. The spraying will be postponed if conditions are windy.
This is a continuation of the war on phragmites begun last year, organized by the Friends of Betsie Bay in cooperation with Benzie Conservation District, the Benzie Watershed Coalition, and other groups (Pearl Lake Association; Herring Lakes Association, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Betsie River Restoration Committee).
Phragmites australis is an invasive variety of tall weed grass that had taken over large swaths of the water’s edge in the area around the mouth of the Betsie River. The treatment performed last fall seems to have killed off a great deal of it—cattails have resumed dominance between the two Elberta bridges—but generally areas need to be retreated for several years for complete eradication.
An aquatic herbicide is applied to the phragmites. The herbicide works by disabling a plant hormone. So far local conservation groups have found no studies showing the herbicide to harm fish or other fauna. Still, it’s probably a good idea to avoid direct exposure to the chemical.