RCOC Works with Local Community Collaborative to Tackle Phragmites Along Roadways

DSC_0392Last spring Matt Forster did a special series for Rochester Media on invasive species. One article was on phragmites, a common reed from Europe that is now taking over Michigan’s roadside wetlands and prompting the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) to join with a number of Oakland County communities and other groups to help combat them.

The RCOC Board, at the request of Managing Director Dennis Kolar, provided $75,000 to tackle the issue along roadways in the county. Under the leadership RCOC joined a group of local communities, governmental agencies and non-profits to form the Oakland County Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA).

“This is an example of the benefits of partnering with the communities of Oakland County,” Kolar stated. “This allows us to pool our resources and leverage those dollars to address a problem that affects all of us. We are allies in the effort to combat phragmites.”

Phragmites can be seen along many roadways throughout Oakland County and Michigan. The invasive species rapidly chokes out native vegetation and nutrients impacting the ecological health of wetlands while impeding proper drainage and sight distance along many roadways.

They can grow to 15 feet tall, and their root system is very deep. Digging them out does not prevent regrowth.

Graphic courtesy of RCOC

Graphic courtesy of RCOC

RCOC provided the funding to the CISMA, so the issue could be addressed by expert, state-licensed pesticide applicators. The money will be spent by various CISMA participants to eradicate the plant along RCOC roads. Many of the participating communities also are contributing funds to the effort to expand the areas treated.

RCOC Environmental Coordinator Brad Knight, “We are very pleased that the CISMA was formed and has taken the lead on combatting this rapidly spreading issue,” RCOC Chairman Ron Fowkes said. “Phragmites are choking out native cattails found along many of our roads.”

CISMA members include: Addison, Bloomfield, Brandon, Independence, Orion, Rose, Waterford, and West Bloomfield townships and the cities of Keego Harbor and Clarkston. The Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission, the Oakland Intermediate School District, Oakland Conservation District, North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy and the Michigan Nature Association Land Conservancy are also members of the CISMA group.

The CISMA has selected how the $75,000 will be allocated (see graphic above).

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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