Phragmites removal to increase property values

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published May 22, 2018

 Phragmites hang out near Silverbell and Adams roads in Oakland Township.

Phragmites hang out near Silverbell and Adams roads in Oakland Township.

File photo by Linda Shepard

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP —  Removal of invasive phragmites can increase local property values, township officials said.

Ben VanderWeide, Oakland Township’s natural areas stewardship manager, said a recent study on the subject was conducted by the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds in western Michigan.

“Judging by the sale of houses, they determined that for every 3 feet that you take phragmites away from a house, you increase the property values by $3.90,” VanderWeide said. “If you talk about a couple of thousand feet for each house — basically treatment across a very large area — it will pay for itself in increased revenue from taxable value for homes. I think this is a great investment of money.”  

Phragmites, a tall perennial grass, choke out native plants, obscure scenic views, become a fire hazard and are difficult to eliminate, officials said.

An ongoing three-year program to remove phragmites from Oakland Township rights of way has been successful, officials said.

“We removed the phragmites from the sides of the roads where they were causing safety issues,” VanderWeide said. “It is no longer being dragged by Road Commission (for Oakland County) equipment and spreading to other patches. I think we are making some good progress here.”

By a unanimous vote May 8, the Oakland Township Board of Trustees approved a $5,500 contract of budgeted funds with PLM Lake and Land Management for the control of approximately 42,000 linear feet of invasive phragmites, Japanese knotweed and swallow-wort.

The firm will treat phragmites in early fall, when the plants begin to store energy in their roots for the winter. A systemic herbicide is used, which moves through the root system and ensures a thorough kill and long-lasting results, PLM officials stated.

With nearly 80 percent of the phragmites plant located beneath the soil, the tall, plumed grass spreads rapidly by below-ground stems. By controlling phragmites, township officials aim to restore native wetland plant communities and protect wildlife habitats.

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.

Oakland Township Supervisor Michael Bailey said he was glad to hear about the added phragmites removal benefit of an increase in property values.  

“That is a happy ending for all about us, and I’d not really thought about that,” Bailey said.

For more information about removing phragmites on private property, contact VanderWeide at  (248) 651-7810 or by email at bvanderweide@oaklandtownship.org.