July 17, 2013 - Phragmites burned off White Lake Road earlier this year, but that was just the beginning.
Linda Lapinski of Oakland Phragmites and Invasive Species Task Force (OPIS) told Independence Township Board, July 9, much work remains to control the spread of the plants. She is willing to help any subdivisions, homeowners, and neighborhoods to get rid of invasive species.
"There are several areas that are infested," Lapinski said. "There are no insects or other critters" that can naturally tackle the problem.
Similar burns have been used in other areas, but the problem will need more, she said.
Lapinski presented the board with a yearlong action plan, starting with an inventory of infested areas and selection of a contractor to complete the eradication work.
Proper permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality must be obtained and homeowners notified before projects begin.
"Start a three-township-wide project – otherwise we won't recognize Independence Township and soon we won't recognize Oakland County," she said.
Township Trustee David Lohmeier acknowledged the plan won't work as well if the township does not work with surrounding communities.
Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle agreed.
"We realize this is serious and we understand that unless it's done collectively and at once, it will continue to be a problem," Kittle said.
He will meet with Oakland and Orion townships to discuss a plan, and he would also like to recruit Ortonville, Waterford, and Springfield townships to help eradicate the pests.
Discussions are being planned with Oakland Township, Lake Orion and Oxford leaders, he said.
OPIS is a group of concerned community members working to protect the quality of lakes, streams and wetlands by ridding the area of invasive species like Phragmites, Autumn Olives, Japanese Knot weeds and Buckthorn.
The invasive species are taking over area wetlands, create a fire hazard, and choke out natural resources available to native plant and animal species, Lapinski said.
The invasive species come from other countries and have no natural predators. They can also change soil chemistry and hydrology, so there is less wildlife like turtles and birds in the area, she said.
"They are taking over wetlands and destroying beaches," she said.
She added fires for Phragmites spreads fast, burn hot, and area firefighters are worried about the plant spread.
Lapinski said because there are so now so many phragmites, the species cannot be eradicated, only controlled.
"Communities need to work together so they can tackle and possible eradicate new invasive species in the area," she said.
For more information on invasive species in the area or how to identify the plant, visit the OPIS Task Force website at www.opistaskforce.org