Invasive Vegetation Control: Bringing Back the Natural Habitat
July 22nd, 2009
The Eastern Shore is the Virginia portion of the Delmarva Peninsula which separates the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. This area of land primarily consists of rural farmland which produces a multitude of agriculture products. Being located on the coast, the Eastern Shore is also a major producer of seafood in Virginia. In order to protect and preserve the natural plants and animals in this region the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has set aside many areas of land, to include all of the barrier islands, as well as two areas of land located at the southern tip of the peninsula which are called the Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge and Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge.
This land is being preserved to be a haven for plants and wildlife. These refuges are important to native and migratory land birds and waterfowl. It is imperative that this natural habitat be restored and preserved in order to sustain healthy wildlife populations in these areas.
Controlling invasive species and organisms is essential for any habitat because they can outcompete and drive away native species. One such invasive plant that has done this is Phragmites australias. When Phragmites invades a wetland it out competes and suffocates the native marsh plants, eliminating that vital habitat for wildlife. Phragmites itself, because of its dense patterns of growth, provides a generally poor habitat for wildlife. It tends to dominate and create a monoculture, thus eliminating essential plant diversity.
In order to restore this habitat, a program of herbicide applications to affected areas has been undertaken to minimize and ultimately eliminate the Phragmites populations in these areas.
By design, these areas are uninhabited and in some cases, completely off limits to man, so accessibility is quite challenging. Amphibious vehicles and other specialty equipment are an essential part of any ground attack on this vegetative invader.
SOLitude Lake Management Company is a certified aquatic pesticide applicator in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, and as such, was contracted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in a partnership with helicopter applicators to provide the ground application resources required to treat the areas of Phragmites growth that was not able to be treated through aerial applications. As a Cabela’s mapping partner, SOLitude Lake Management used GPS mapping technologies to document and provide detailed maps and aerial photography of the areas in which the Phragmites was treated.
Not only did this allow the customer to quantify the acreage of areas treated and evaluate the costs of the project, it also allowed them to track the progress of the program as compared to previous years. This was the second year that SOLitude Lake Management was involved in this project, and progress can already be seen. The density of the Phragmites after the first year’s treatment has been decreased, and much of the natural vegetation has started to recover and return to the areas that were once dominated by Phragmites.
As anyone familiar with Phragmites, its durability, and its extremely aggressive patterns of growth can attest, this will be an ongoing effort that will likely take many years. However, with the right treatment, and the proper tools and technology, we are able to make great strides towards our goals of eradication of the Phragmites and the restoration of this beautiful natural habitat.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
Kevin Tucker is the president of SOLitude Lake Management. Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Services are available throughout the Eastern United States. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.