Fighting the phrag (even in winter!)

Phragmites plume in snow

Phragmites plume in winter. Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

High above the piling snow, the plume-like seed heads of Phragmites australis wave in the winter winds. These fluffy tufts are a beautiful but unwelcome sight on the landscape. That’s because Phragmites australis, or common reed, is a harmful invasive plant that can destroy our wetlands and increase fire risk. This deep-rooted grass is a giant that grows from six to fifteen feet tall, which means it can also block those beautiful waterfront views that we all love. Not to mention, it can lower property values, particularly on waterfront homes.

While phragmites can be a bad sign, its high visibility in the winter months can be helpful to those trying to manage it, like the Barry-Calhoun-Kalamazoo Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (Try saying that ten times fast! For your tongue’s sake we’ll stick with calling it the BCK-CISMA.) This group is on the lookout to find and manage invasive species like phragmites before they get out of hand.

Treatment of well-established populations can take years and the BCK-CISMA’s proactive approach could end up saving millions of dollars. You need not go far to see how much money phragmites control can cost once the plant really spreads- just look at the Saginaw Bay region. Partners have been working there for over a decade to manage hundreds of acres of phragmites, with total project costs well over a quarter of a million dollars. Barry County is lucky to have mostly small pocket populations that could potentially be knocked out before we get to that sort of situation, but only if we act now.

Phragmites stand in winter

Phragmites stands can be easier to spot in the winter, when other vegetation has died back and been matted down. Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

We can’t do it alone, though! We need folks like you to keep an eye out for phragmites and report it. We do not obligate landowners to manage the phragmites, but if we know where it is we can provide education and management options if the landowner wants. If you would like to help in the hunt to find invasive phragmites, here is what you will look for in the winter: a 6′-15′ tall, pale, stiff, dried grass sticking up far above cattails and other plants (in the summer it is a dark bluish green). Its feathery inflorescences (fluffy flower-like seedheads) are quite large and turn dark purple in late summer/early fall and then fade to a pale tan/beige color by winter. Usually other plants will not be growing underneath invasive phragmites, but that is not always the case.

To report phragmites sightings, you can call the Conservation District at (269) 908-4135 or email us at sarah.nelson@macd.org. If you know a group that would like to learn more, we can also provide free workshops and educational materials.

Phragmites infestation

If left untreated, phragmites can totally take over an area, choking out native plants. Photo courtesy of Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

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Tree Sale Order Forms Now Available

BCD is now taking orders for its 2017 Spring Tree Sale. You can find the order form at http://www.barrycd.org/home/trees/. Keep checking back, our online store should be up and running soon!

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Now accepting nominating petitions

The Barry Conservation District Board of Directors will have two positions up for election at its annual meeting this March. Please contact the District at 269.908.4135 to obtain a copy of the nominating petition if you are interested in becoming a board member. Signed petitions are due by January 27th, 2017.

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Meeting cancellation

The regular meeting of the Barry conservation District board of directors, scheduled for October 25th has been cancelled and rescheduled for November 1st at 6pm at the Barry County 911 Dispatch Center conference room.

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2017 Budget and Appropriations Act

The proposed budget of the Barry Conservation District for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2016 will be presented to the District Board for final approval at its regular meeting to be held at 6:00 p.m. on September 27, 2016 in the Barry 911 Dispatch Center, 2600 Nashville Rd, Hastings, MI 49058. The Public is invited to comment on the proposed budget at this time. Copies of the proposed budget are available for review at the District office located at 1611 S Hanover St., Suite 105, Hastings, MI 49058.

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Notice of Special Meeting 09.12.16

NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING

The Barry Conservation District Board of Directors has scheduled a special meeting for Monday, September 12, 2016 at 6pm at the Barry Conservation District Office, located at 1611 S Hanover St, Suite 105, Hastings, MI to discuss the proposed draft 2017 Appropriations Act and other budgetary concerns.

The public is welcome to attend.

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Cedar Creek Public Meeting

The clean, cool waters of Cedar Creek flow gently through miles of the high-quality prairie, wetland, and forest that Barry County is known for. Beyond providing us with a picturesque backdrop, the creek system functions in ways that provide us with vital services like water and debris transport, flood control, water quality control, and fish passage. Where rivers meet roads, the natural functions of a stream can become impaired and cause issues such as altered water flow, increased erosion, habitat degradation, and barriers to fish passage.

Barry Conservation District and the Barry County Road Commission have teamed up with other local partners to address one such problematic crossing- the undersized culverts at McKeown Road. The main objectives of this project are to improve the hydraulic function, riverine and riparian connectivity, sediment transport, and water quality on Cedar Creek by replacing the two existing undersized culverts with a bankfull-width timber bridge.

Join Barry Conservation District to learn more about the impacts of improperly sized or placed road-stream crossings and about how our project will improve the health of Cedar Creek. The informational meeting will take place this Thursday, August 18th at 7pm at the Hastings Charter Township hall.

cedar creek invite

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Resource Needs Assessment

The Conservation District is currently working on updating its Natural Resource Needs Assessment. Please help by taking our quick online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8WK5XVG

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CANCELLATION NOTICE

Please note that the regular meeting scheduled for the Barry Conservation District Board on August 23rd, 2016 has been cancelled.

The next meeting will take place on September 27th, 2016 from 6:00pm – 7:30pm at the Barry 911 Dispatch Center, 2600 Nashville Rd., Hastings.

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Request for bids- Environmental Consulting

The Barry Conservation District is now accepting bids for an environmental consultant for the Cedar Creek Aquatic Habitat Grant Project. Bids are due by 8am on August 9th, 2016.

Please click the following link to download the complete bid package, which includes all necessary application instructions and forms: REQUEST FOR BIDS- Environmental Consulting

Questions? Contact Sarah Nelson at sarah.nelson@macd.org or 269-908-4135

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