Full-scale assault begins on invasive grass in Brown County

800 acres taken over by an invasive plant is under the spray gun

Spraying herbicide on phragmites
(Photo: WBAY)

ALLOUEZ, Wis. (WBAY) – It’s a full-scale assault on an invasive plant that’s taken over shorelines and riverbanks in Brown County. The battle is underway thanks to a federal grant of nearly $1 million.

Nick Kafcas of Wildlife & Wetlands Solutions has spent nearly a decade driving what’s called a “Marsh Master” around the Great Lakes.

“We started back in 2007, and phragmites was basically the reason that we started.”

Thanks to a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, 800 acres in Brown County taken over by phragmites is under the spray gun, including an area along the East River in Allouez, just outside Green Bay.

“This is an initial treatment of a pretty major infestation, so we’re coming in and we’re treating these large stands with herbicide and hopefully going to knock it back to about 10 percent of what it is now, that’s the hope, at least 90 percent success rate in effectiveness,” Kafcas said.

Howard is another area targeted in this first year of spraying. Ashwaubenon on the list for next year.

Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission is overseeing the project, and says phragmites impacts more than just the natural habitat it consumes.

Angela Kowalzek-Adrians of the Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission says, “Access to public water, whether it be the bay or the rivers, you have limited recreational access which could affect tourism. It also has fire risk; we’ve seen when it catches on fire, so you have a huge economic loss from the manhours and the damages that are done with fire.”

Within two weeks the sprayed phragmites will start to die, then they’ll be mowed down next month, giving cattails and other native plants a chance to return.

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