Amphibious vehicles used to kill invasive plants in Green Bay

Howard, Wis (WFRV) - You may have seen them on the side of the highway; the invasive plant species called phragmites, pronounced "frag-might-eez."   The plant has spread across the United States over many years, and some believe it reached Green Bay in the 1970's with the construction of I-43.  Now, it has become a problem in the area, especially in wetlands and ditches, and the government is trying to stop the spread.  
 
Josh LaPointe, the Regional Manager of Applied Ecological Service, is part of the team trying to get rid of the very aggressive plant.  He says the best time to spray the plant with herbicides is in Fall.
 
"We'll kill a lot of the phragmites but you got to stay after it if we're going to really bring back the health of these systems," said LaPointe.
 
Killing them takes some heavy equipment, and Josh and his team are using tracked, amphibious vehicles, basically described as an aluminum tank.
 
Three of them will cover 400 acres in Green Bay,  with each of them spraying an herbicide that gets into the roots and eventually kills the 15-foot tall plants.
 
"Unfortunately it's not something that we can just spray it once and walk away," said Amy Carrozzino-Lyon, the Phragmites Project Coordinator for the Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission.
 
They are in charge of the $1,000,000 grant from the EPA to get rid of the invasive species.
 
"Once we do get these large, very dense stands of phragmites, it's not very good habitat for wildlife.  It also can impair access to recreational areas, and view of the Bay," she said.
 
With two years of treatment, the hope is that the plants stay under control, however, it's possible they might fight back.  The treatment needs to be done on a yearly basis. 
 
The spraying began last week and continues through September, eventually followed by a mowing or cutting of the dead vegetation in Winter.

 


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