Category Archives: Phragmites

Phragmites Project

Slowly but surely, we’re headed for a “maintenance” process of the invasive reed, phragmites, on Bestie Bay. Anytime I’m headed toward Elberta I always take a “rubber-necking” gander to see how the phragmites stands we’ve been working on are changing. Good news, THEY ARE…. Many are only re-sprouting from within the deeper stands, and each year, we’re  attracting more property owners on the bay side of Lake Street to sign up for treatment, which helps radically! There’s another interloper, the invasive cattails (Typha angustifolia), which are glad for the reduced competition and clearly are expanding into the former phragmites infestation areas. Not so great when any monoculture takes over an area but clearly cattails are less detrimental to the ecosystem as compared to phragmites. A constant reminder in this process is the long term need to continue our efforts because the Betsie River is quite infested with phragmites stands and this means we’ll be constantly looking at new outbreaks. This year we gained two new property owners and the Grand Traverse Band of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians. THANK YOU to ALL the property owners that have invested in the value of treatment for the healthy ecosystems on their properties!

Phrag Front

In our ongoing attempt to control phragmites, we had our 2nd annual treatment in late September with Wetlands & Wildlife Solutions, Vickie Smith, owner. When discussion the plan for this year’s focus, Vickie remarked we will likely see a much higher rate of re-growth next spring (2013), then we were able to see this spring. The best viewing is actually right along the Elberta bridge on M22. The Luedtke ‘Boneyard’ also received the first intensive treatment of their phragmites colonies. These areas will continue to be our main focus for years to come. As explained in our spring newsletter due to the large phragmites stands upriver, which is currently outside of our abilities to treat, we will always have a phragmites issue downstream in the Bay area.

There is a bright note to this rather depressing thought…we have new partners who are also interested/invested in doing what they can to address this large (estimated 1 acre) stand. Both the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) with some guidance of the Benzie Conservation District have completed the mapping to identify specifically where the phragmites are currently established. FoBB led our first Phrag Float in 2010 and began the mapping process. It was reported that those stands, two years later, don’t appear to have grown too much larger, which is excellent news given the drought conditions. Phragmites LOVE drought conditions on the waterways! Perhaps having ‘big guns’ on some larger grant opportunities may be the key to final beginning to address this area of concern. We are very grateful for their partnerships.

We were not able to get more than three private property owners to be willing to pay for their property’s phrag infestation and this is a concern that FoBB will be trying to address. Two of the property owners are new on the Bay and the third was Luedtke’s, at the Boneyard area. The first treatment, paid entirely with matching grant money in 2011, we had about 90% of the private property owners around the Bay give us their full support and permission to treat their properties until 2013. However, as we are all aware, grant funding is becoming more scarce as we struggle through these economically challenging times. Friends of Betsie Bay are committed to seeking all the financial possibilities we can to continue with our mission. We cannot do this without all of our help.

Successful and effective phragmites treatment of private property requires neighbors willing to work and talk together! We clearly understand the affects on personal property values of letting phrags go wild. When you cannot access your waterfront property through the phragmites, you lose value to your property. When the phragmites establish dense colonies on your property, you lose water and gain more area for more phrags to establish. This then becomes a neighborhood issue. The Friends of Betsie Bay are seeking your input for how we can be of assistance in effectively getting blocks of neighbors to at least engage in conversations about becoming good stewards of your waterfront properties. Please let us know if you have any ideas that may be helpful in this educational effort.

Notification of Herbicide Application to Control the Invasive Phragmites in the Betsie Bay Area

Phramites the common reed

When the non-native common reed—which can reach up to 10-feet tall—becomes rooted along a water’s edge, it blocks light to other plants and inhabits much of the growing area, consequently creating a monoculture. Phragmites can multiply at an astonishing rate because it gives birth at both its head and its base. Seeds are airborne, while root systems spread along and below the ground upwards of 30-50 feet per year.

Wildlife and Wetlands Solutions will be applying herbicide to the Betsie Bay, Betsie Lake, and Betsie River shoreline to control invasive phragmites between Sept 24 and Oct 10, 2011. Our target date for this project is September 27th, but weather conditions must be conducive for a foliar spraying by a State licensed aquatic applicator from Wetlands and Wildlife Solutions, of Traverse City.

This collaborative effort for the 2011 season has been funded by several grants from the Nature Conservancy through the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Cooperative Weed Management Area on behalf of the Friends of Betsie Bay. This will be the first of likely a 3-year project to control phragmites.

Phragmites is controlled using glyphosate, imazapyr, a surfactant and a tracer dye. Application will occur by foliar spraying with a backpack sprayer, by boat or using a tank sprayer with an ATV. Signs will be posted to all treated areas stating the date of application and listing water restrictions.

PLEASE NOTE: Water access is restricted for 24 hours during the application process to avoid contamination. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause for the many fall recreational activities such as fishing, boating, etc. We’re hoping this minor inconvenience will be far out weighed by the future health of this bay area.

A risk/benefit statement concerning herbicide treatment is available at the municipal offices of Elberta, Crystal Lake & Gilmore townships and Frankfort. Or visit the Friends of Betsie Bay at Also check this edition of the Record Patriot’s legal ads for an abridged version of the statement. For more specific information on the herbicide application procedure or timing of application, please contact Wetlands and Wildlife at (231) 943-0762 or visit