Manitowoc County Attacks Phragmites

COOPERSTOWN, Wis (WBAY) Landowners in Manitowoc County are urged to take a walk on their property and look for phragmites.

It's part of a massive county-wide effort to control the invasive plant, and it's a free service.

Today on some property in the Town of Cooperstown, a crew from Stantec is spraying phragmites, the invasive plant that arrived from the Green Bay area decades ago when I-43 was constructed.

"The contractor that had the project down to Manitowoc was moving his equipment back and forth and that's where the colonies originally started was on the road right-of-way of I-43 and that's over 30 years ago and then slowly it's spread itself now to just about all of the county, but most concentrated in townships closest to the interstate," says Tom Ward, Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership Invasive Species Coordinator.

Over the last two years, the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership has identified and mapped phragmites colonies in the county, and applied for and received a federal grant of more the $600,000 to treat the invasive.

"We really have the opportunity to try and really put it back, we never use the word exterminate it because it's always got to be managed but we don't want to get to the point it is in our environment all over because then at that time you have to give up on the invasive," says Ward.

With the help of a UTV, crews spray an herbicide on the phragmites.

A follow up application will take place next year.

"We'll be coming back next year to treat the stuff because there's usually a seed bank, or if you happen to miss one there will be a little next year, but usually it's much reduced the following year," says Derek Mueller with Stantec, based in Madison.

While hundreds of landowners have signed up for the spraying, townships say they've having trouble spreading the word.

"We have almost 200 landowners that haven't responded so if they find phragmites on their land they can just call any of our town supervisors and get a form to sign and get rid of this invasive species," says David Blakeslee, Cooperstown Town Chairman.

To report a phragmites on your land, property owners can contact their town board or contact Melissa Curran with Stantec at 920-841-1072.