Progress has been made in the fight against phragmites along the western shoreline of Green Bay, dozens of landowers were told Wednesday night at a meeting at Little River Country Club.  EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Progress has been made in the fight against phragmites along the western shoreline of Green Bay, dozens of landowers were told Wednesday night at a meeting at Little River Country Club. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
TOWN OF PESHTIGO - Dozens of concerned landowners attended a meeting held Wednesday night at Little River Country Club to discuss the lingering problem posed by phragmites along the western shoreline of Green Bay.

Heidi Springborn, a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin DNR and the Green Bay area's phragmite project coordinator, addressed the success that the phragmites eradication program experienced last year and spoke about project plans moving forward before opening up the meeting to questions from the audience.

Springborn explained that, unfortunately, the grant the DNR received to treat phragmites along the bay will expire in 2013, and said that any follow-up treatments of the invasive grass will be funding-dependant - a snag the DNR has to deal with, despite the huge success the program had last year, and the promise that the continued treatment of the invasive grass would hold for the future.

According to Springborn, Marinette County's high level of participation in the program resulted in a tremendous phragmites kill last fall - roughly 90 to 95 percent in the 3,300 acre are of land that was treated with the herbicide Imazapyr (brand name Habitat).

Yet while most of the chemical application was done aerially last year - due to the tremendous success it had, the vast majority of treatments this year will be performed at the ground level.

Nonetheless, John Huff, of the DNR's Peshtigo office, said the effort to combat the invasive grass will be an ongoing battle - one that won't be won overnight.

"What we're doing right now is giving ourselves the opportunity to be successful," Huff explained.

Following Wednesday's presentation, Springborn especially wanted to thank all of the landowners who have been so instrumental in the program's success.

"Out of 300 Marinette County landowners, only two denied treatment," she said.

Springborn is asking any landowners that are willing to give ground crews access to their land to contact her office at 920-662-5447, her cell phone at 920-362-1341, or email her at Heidi.Springborn@Wisconsin.gov. 

"What I mostly need now is access points - help with access would be very much appreciated," she emphasized.

Springborn also provided some advice for the landowners who may have already mowed down the phragmites on their property.

"When the plant is mowed short, there is not enough there for the herbicide to work effectively - at least three feet is needed - so please stop mowing," she explained.

Springborn said this year's treatment is tentatively scheduled to commence later this month or following Labor Day weekend.

In the meantime, she's been desperately trying to locate additional funding so that the necessary treatment effort is allowed to continue in the future.

Springborn explained that she would love to get State Rep. John Nygren, State Sen. Dave Hansen, or Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker up in the air with her.

"It's hard to understand the problem, and the success, without being up in the air - I want to get them up in the air," she said.