Door County using technology to track down invasive weeds

DOOR COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Door County is trying to tackle invasive weeds in the area by calling on landowners and nature lovers to help track where they are. The program is using technology to eventually map out where the weeds are spreading and crowding out native plants in the area.

Jo Wahlen said once she learned about phragmites and invasive weeds, she knew she had to help.

“The biggest thing is individuals now self-reporting because what we found is it's moving inland, especially away from the lakes and creek beds,” said Wahlen.

Wahlen is a volunteer helping area conservationists track down phragmites. It's aggressive, even capable of changing the hydrology and ecology of an area.

“This plant can grow 50 feet in one growing season, every 10 centimeters, you have a new growing point, so even if you try to shovel cut or break that piece up, you're creating additional plants, and what you see above ground, is a fraction of what's below ground,” said Krista Lutzke, Conservationist with the Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department.

The Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department is now lending out GPS devices to landowners, like Jo Wahlen. It’s all to get a better idea where the invasive weed has been spreading throughout the county.

The GPS device isn't the only way to report, there's also an app called the Great Lakes Early Detection Network App, which is another way to track down where these weeds are, especially since most people have a smart phone these days.

Passionate about the cause, Wahlen said it's important for the future of the land around us.

“Educating yourself, and realizing, without the land and the water being pure, we cannot exist, on the planet, so I think these groups that are doing this work, it's highly successful, and very important,” said Wahlen.