Marsh Restoration Project

Metro Beach Metropark and St. John’s Marsh

Project Goal

To restore and protect valuable coastal marshes within the St. Clair watershed through the control of Phragmites australis, an invasive plant.

Restoring the Marsh

The marsh restoration project area includes Metro Beach Metropark, other areas of Harrison Township and St. John’s Marsh in Algonac. Phragmites has quickly spread through much of the region’s marsh areas. Treatment options to control Phragmites require a combination of herbicides and controlled burns because large infestations of the plant are impossible to remove by digging or pulling. Trained professionals from Ducks Unlimited have followed a control plan approved by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Efforts to control Phragmites include aerial and on-the-ground herbicide applications and controlled burns.

Background

Phragmites australis (pronounced frag-MY-teez), also known as common reed or simply Phragmites, is an invasive, perennial, marsh grass. This invasive plant is becoming widespread, threatening the ecological health and diversity of marshes (wetlands) and shorelines, like those within the project area.

About Phragmites

  • Phragmites crowds out native plants, forming thick stands that can grow up to 20 feet high.
  • Mature plants have sharp edges and deep root systems, making it impossible to remove by hand.
  • Rhizomes (roots) can be found as deep as 6.5 feet below ground. Rhizomes broken by actions like waves, dredging or digging quickly take root in new locations.
  • While it may appear to be another pretty wetland grass, Phragmites aggressively takes over entire marsh areas. It is thought to secrete gallic acid to kill off other species of nearby plants, rapidly reducing biodiversity.
  • Once established, the invasive plant blocks shoreline views, is undesirable to most wildlife and reduces water access for swimming, fishing and hunting.

Project Partners

This project is a cooperative effort of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, Harrison Township, the Michigan Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, Michigan Sea Grant and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. Other collaborators include St. Clair Flats Waterfowlers, Inc. and the St. Clair County Parks and Recreation Commission.

MICHU-11-602

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