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Making way for migratory birds in the St. Mary's
Midwest Region, November 14, 2016
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Three Shores Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area staff worked with the Sault Tribe to help remove invasive non-native cattails and European frog-bit.
Three Shores Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area staff worked with the Sault Tribe to help remove invasive non-native cattails and European frog-bit. - Photo Credit: Christie Deloria/USFWS
The cattail harvester gets ready to cut an invasive cattail stand.
The cattail harvester gets ready to cut an invasive cattail stand. - Photo Credit: Christie Deloria/USFWS

In 2014, the Service's Coastal Program awarded funding to the Inland Fish and Wildlife Department of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to control invasive species in coastal marshes along the St. Mary’s River in Michigan. The project started as a result of a tribal member expressing concern over the decrease in waterfowl hunting opportunities in the St. Mary’s area over the past few decades. The Inland Fish and Wildlife Department investigated migratory bird use of the area and began identifying strategic management efforts to restore the wetlands and control the invasive plant species that had spread throughout the coastal wetland complex. Through a network of collaborations including Loyola University Chicago, Boise State University, Oregon State University, Dartmouth College and Three Shores Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, the department has designed a hybrid cattail (Typha x glauca) control program that shares labor, equipment and expertise among the partners.

So far, more than 65 acres have been treated for invasive plant species, including purple loosestrife, hybrid cattail and phragmites. Inland Fish and Wildlife Department staff have removed 440 33-gallon trash bags of purple loosestrife across 53 acres of coastal marsh bordering the St. Mary’s River. Through unique manipulations and management methods, the department and partners were able to identify a better approach for removing invasive cattails. Project partners used a cattail harvester to mechanically remove the cattail stands. Experimental testing was conducted on young cattail stands by cutting the stands at varying heights to investigate harvesting effects. The project partners also mapped the locations of invasive species in early summer 2016 to focus efforts on recently invaded wetlands and maximize the amount of area treated during the project.

The Inland Fish and Wildlife Department grew 4,216 hard stem bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutus) plants to plant in areas where the cattail harvester removed hybrid cattails. In addition, a native plant nursery delivered another 9,240 hard stem bulrush plants to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe this fall. These plants were transplanted with the plants grown by the department. Over the coming years, staff will continue to monitor migratory bird use of the wetlands to evaluate the effectiveness of invasive plant treatments, identify areas of importance to wildlife and focus future restoration efforts.


Contact Info: Dawn Marsh, 906-226-1212, dawn_marsh@fws.gov
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