Source: Sherman Publications

Letter to the Editor
Herbicides for phragmites safe in small amounts,

February 27, 2013

Dear Editor,

In response to the column "Beware unintended consequences," Feb. 13, which asks “because we want to save our native plants, should we spray phragmites with chemicals that will run onto the soil and into our groundwater,” we urge citizens and governments of Oakland County to preserve our wetlands and natural areas by controlling invasive plants.

Pulling and cutting, adjustments in water levels, controlled burns, and other non-chemical techniques are everyone’s first choice to remove invasive plants. Once phragmites (tall reed) have become established, as is the case along White Lake Road in Clarkston, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDEQ and MDNR), and The Nature Conservancy all recommend the judicious use of herbicides. Phragmites has roots that grow 10 feet below ground. Pulling is impossible and actually stimulates more rapid growth, and mowing and burning do not eliminate phragmites. For these reasons, herbicide will be needed to control the phragmites infestation along White Lake Road in Clarkston.

Herbicides to control phragmites are used in very small quantities; measured in teaspoons or cups for a patch of phragmites. The phragmites along White Lake Road in Clarkston are being mowed and burned as part of an integrated pest management program to minimize the quantity of herbicide needed, following the best management approaches actively being used by the Indian Springs Metro Park, Independence Oaks County Park, MDEQ, MDNR, and The Nature Conservancy. Small quantities of herbicide will be hand swiped or hand sprayed onto individual phragmites stalks, to minimize contact with native plants and ensure that herbicide will not run onto the soil or into the surface water or ground water. The herbicide will be applied once a year and control is usually achieved within three years, so herbicide is used for a very short time.

If left untreated, the phragmites along White Lake Road will create a monoculture in the wetland, crowding out the cattails and other native plants that our wildlife need for food and shelter. Rachael Carson said using herbicide to control invasive plants is like using chemotherapy to control cancer. Minimal amounts of herbicide along White Lake Road will remove the cancer of phragmites and restore the wetlands to a healthy ecosystem. More information is available on the OTIS website at www.OaklandPhragmitesTask Force.com or at phragmites.org. Thank you.

Emily Duthinh , Linda Walsh Lapinski

Co-chairs, Oakland Phragmites & Invasive Plants Task Force