OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Township and county officials are continuing efforts to eradicate phragmites, the invasive plant that chokes out native plants and blocks traffic views.

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Township and county officials are continuing efforts to eradicate phragmites, the invasive plant that chokes out native plants and blocks traffic views.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Phragmites control continues

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published September 25, 2018

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Township and county officials are continuing efforts to eradicate phragmites, the invasive plant that chokes out native plants and blocks traffic views.     

“They are taking over. They get up to 15 feet tall,” said Craig Bryson, the Road Commission for Oakland County’s communications officer. “There is a problem with drainage, sight distance and environmental issues.”

The Oakland County Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, in cooperation with the Road Commission and local governments, will be treating phragmites along major roads’ rights of way through October.

The grass forms dense stands that block views at intersections, impede water access, impair drainage in ditches and streams, damage road infrastructure, and crowd out habitats for wildlife and native plants, and they can cause damaging fires if ignited, according to Road Commission officials.

Areas planned for treatment include along roads throughout the county, including in Oakland Township. An ongoing three-year program to remove phragmites from Oakland Township rights of way has been successful, township officials said.

“We removed the phragmites from the sides of the roads where they were causing safety issues,” said Ben VanderWeide, Oakland Township’s natural areas stewardship manager. “I think we are making some good progress here.”

According to the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network, invasive phragmites can clog wetlands. The plant’s numerous stems and rhizomes catch sediments, eventually filling in small waterways and preventing waterfowl from using invaded areas as a home or a stopping point.

Phragmites make it difficult to access wetlands, and they impede views from waterside properties. Their dead stems and leaves are extremely flammable, contributing to intense fires on the East Coast and in southern Michigan, according to network officials.

According to Road Commission officials, the county’s phragmites treatment schedule is approximate, and posted signs will indicate the date of the treatment, the products used and any restrictions on the use of treated property.

With nearly 80 percent of the phragmites plant located beneath the soil, the tall, plumed grass spreads rapidly by below-ground stems.

“You can’t stop them unless you spray,” Bryson said.

For more information, contact the Road Commission at (878) 858-4804 or at dcsmail@rcoc.org. For information about removing phragmites on private property in Oakland Township, contact VanderWeide at (248) 651-7810 or bvanderweide@oaklandtownship.org.