Battle against phragmites in Brown County

phragmites invasive grass

ALLOUEZ, Wis. (WBAY) – When our cameras first caught up with a crew from Wildlife and Wetland Solutions back in September along the East River in Allouez, only a small tank-like vehicle could pass through the phragmites-infested shoreline to apply an herbicide.

“First time anybody has really tackled phragmites on a large scale in this area, so there was a lot to treat,” said Angela Kowalzek-Adrians, Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission. “With treating 1,000 acres, it’s indicative of just how much is out there.”

The shoreline looks different today. After allowing the spray to take effect and transfer into the phragmites root system to kill it, the invasive plant is being mowed to the ground, giving cattails and other native plants a chance to return.

“East River it made a huge difference,” said Scott Musselman, Wildlife & Wetland Solutions. “I mean I knocked down acres and acres of it, so it looks much better. People are very happy with it.”

Musselman has spent the past two weeks mowing down phragmites around the Green Bay area. He was along Ashland Avenue in Ashwaubenon on Friday. His company, based in Michigan, has crews all over the upper Midwest.

“It’s actually starting to make a difference,” he said. “This is our second year of doing this on this scale, and see, the actual results [are] great.”

A million dollar grant from the EPA allowed Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission to launch this initial assault on phragmites.

“We’re hoping that it’s more than just the tip of the iceberg, that we got an unmanageable problem manageable, and from here municipalities, local land owners will be able to keep it under control going forward,” Kowalzek-Adrians said.