Conservation district hosting invasive species workshop


STANDISH TWP. — Phragmites and other unwelcome species in the Saginaw Bay will be discussed during an invasive species workshop hosted by the Arenac County Conservation District at White’s Beach Tavern July 16.

Conservation District Administrator Dawn Hergott said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other groups will be on hand to share information regarding phragmites and invasive species.

“The fire department will be there, because people sometimes want to burn the phragmites after they treat them,” Hergott said. “They want them to do that properly without causing more damage or sending up smoke and causing everyone to start panicking.”

Phragmites, the tall, pointy plant that has grown along the coast of the Saginaw Bay in many areas in the county, often chokes out other more useful plant species, Hergott said. Controlling phragmites is important in controlling the overall health of the Bay and aquatic inhabitants, she said.

“(Phragmites) don’t really provide any benefit to the environment,” she said. “They drown out other vegetative life that actually feeds the plants and animals. Dogs have gone through them and they’ve stabbed them because they’re so hard and woody.”

If the growth is not kept in check, Hergott said eventually it could affect tourism and home ownership along the Saginaw Bay.

“It could take over the beaches,” she said. “It could make view of a home to where people wouldn’t want to purchase it because they couldn’t see the Bay.”

Phragmites have overgrown some personal docks, boat lifts and road end access points, Hergott said.

“It could definitely hurt tourism and the local economy,” she said.

Much of the current phragmite issue was caused due to people being unaware what phragmites were and how much they were growing, Hergott said.

“It’s mostly because in the beginning, people didn’t know what it was,” she said. “The general public didn’t know what it was so they grew and grew.”

Last fall the conservation district did conduct phragmite control in White’s Beach, but much of the issue is on state land, Hergott said.

“The sad thing about it is the DNR isn’t able to do anything on their property and it’s really heavy there,” she said.

For more information on the workshop July 16, contact the conservation district at 989-846-9662.


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