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June 18, 2019 5:54 pm

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A Three-Year, $52,000 Plan To Deal With Invasive Species Needs Tri-Community Approval

     City of Douglas officials are getting the ball rolling on their proposal for a regional (Tri-Community) fight against the invasive specie known as Phragmites plaguing the Kalamazoo Harbor.
        “The problem is significant,” said Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere during Monday’s night council meeting, saying it is negatively affecting private property owners as well as public waters.
        LeFevere reported the city has received a three-year, $52,000 proposal for a regional action plan to remove and manage non-native flora — consisting of infected areas along the river within Saugatuck Township, and the cities of Saugatuck and Douglas—from Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway, the non-profit education and conservation organization Saugatuck hired in October 2015 to deal with invasive plants on its side of the harbor.
        “Everything (costs) is allocated according to the acreage of Phragmites that is going to be treated in each specific municipality,” said LeFevere about a proposal that is still on the table and would need to be approved by all municipalities to move forward.
        Eight private property owners around the Wade’s Bayou outlet in Douglas have already taken measures on their own to deal with Phragmites and they are on the third year of treatment, meaning they are prepared for a “prescribed burning,” a specialized, controlled burning of invasive plants.
        Native plants, as a result of the burning, are expected to reclaim the area with the help of sunlight penetrating the ground.
        “We believe the city and the fire department have an active role in helping manage this,” said LeFevere, indicating he had an initial meeting with Saugatuck Township Fire District Chief Greg Janik about the prescribed burning set for Wade’s Bayou, an area near so many homes.
        “The county will be involved with the emergency management center. It’s going to be a big effort because of the area (Wade’s Bayou),” LeFevere added.
        While the City of Saugatuck made the first move, Douglas officials thought it wiser to include Douglas and the township in a broader plan because, after all, they say, it is a regional problem that, if it was going to be handled effectively, ought to be done simultaneously and done so through the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority.
        Some Saugatuck officials have given their nod of approval, Douglas officials claim, but the  Saugatuck City Council as a whole has yet to discuss it.
        “We are going to talk about it (regional proposal) at a future workshop,” Saugatuck City Council Mayor Pro-Tem Ken Trester, also chair of Harbor Authority, told The Local Observer Tuesday.
        Township officials would need to take the matter up as well if the proposal is go forward.
        The objectives that  Outdoor Discovery lays out in its proposal are the control and management of Purple Loosestrife, Reed Canary Grass, Phragmites, etc.; controlled burning to reduce invasive plants and therefore, help reestablish native plants; develop up-stream partnerships to combat an influx of invasive species into the harbor; and re-establish viable native populations of threatened, endangered and species of concern in terms of plants and animals.
        In its request, officials had asked Outdoor Discovery to prepare a three-year plan that did not take budget restraints into consideration. Outdoor Discovery came up with a grand total of $52,000 for all projects of which Douglas’ portion came to $10,749, Saugatuck at $27,414 and the township at $13,844.

A Three-Year, $52,000 Plan To Deal With Invasive Species Needs Tri-Community Approval

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