Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Lafarge North America to Fight Invasive Species
BY HEATHER RAWLINGS, ALPENA FWCO
Lafarge North America - Presque Isle Quarry, a limestone quarry located in Presque Isle County, Michigan is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and Huron Pines (a non-profit conservation organization) to eradicate a persistent invasive species on their property. Phragmites australis, known by most as phragmites, is an invasive wetland grass that, once established, reproduces quickly and out-competes native wetland vegetation along riparian areas and coastlines. Phragmites reproduces through rhizomes (horizontal stems growing underground). These rhizomes can grow greater than 60 feet and produce roots and stalks at regularly spaced intervals. The quarry has a thriving population of phragmites growing along the riparian corridor of the Bell River. This short river is the outflow of the quarry’s considerable 5000 acres of wetland and bedrock habitat.
Huron Pines Americorps members and Service Biologist Heather Rawlings completed an inventory of phragmites and purple loosestrife on the Lafarge property late this summer. The inventory documented slightly more than 20 acres of phragmites in 68 locations. This inventory completed the work started by students that participated in the Great Lakes Natural Resources Camp in July 2014.
Plants that were located are scheduled to be chemically treated in fall 2014 by contractor JFNew. Follow-up treatments will occur in future years as necessary. The amount of treatment will be contingent on the method of treatment recommended and the amount of funding available. Funding is in place for the treatment with a 50:50 cost share between Lafarge North America and the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.
The removal of the invasive phragmites will allow for native cattails and emergent wetland species to repopulate the area, providing habitat for nearshore and juvenile fish, reptiles, amphibians and birds dependent on native wetland habitats.