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Workers hope to shield Northwoods from major phragmites standsSubmitted: 04/27/2015
RHINELANDER - Fields of an invasive plant called phragmites stand all along Wisconsin's Lake Michigan shore. Invasive species workers hope most of the plants stay away from the Northwoods.

Workers chopped down a stand of phragmites on Monday. It stood on Highway 8 just west of Rhinelander. It had been chemically treated in the fall. Hopefully, that will help control the spread of the species.

"There was a lot of hope that kind of drawing that center line from north to south, that we could stop some of that invasion spreading westward," said Oneida County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator Michele Sadauskas.

Phragmites choke out all other plants in a wetland.

"Today what we're doing here is hoping to clear the site," Sadauskas said. "We want to eventually restore this site. We want to get native species back in there to come back up instead of having the invasive phragmites."

Invasive species experts would like to re-plant the area with native species. That could happen either this fall or next spring. The cut phragmites stalks were hauled away and burned. That should prevent seeds from spreading.

The heaviest phragmites are in eastern Wisconsin. It may not be realistic to keep the species completely out of the Northwoods, but people can have a big effect on slowing the plant's spread.

"If we get those smaller little patches, those are going to be the patches that we're going to have a better chance of eradicating," Sadauskas said. "So, never lose hope. We can certainly hope to look at eradication, but at least keeping that really minimal disturbance."

Right now in the Northwoods, phragmites are classified as restricted. This summer, the species will be moved to the prohibited category.

"Once it hits that prohibited category, then you need to be actually doing something to it and controlling it, managing it," Sadauskas said. It's actually required by law that you cannot possess that particular invasive species."

Story By: Ben Meyer

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