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June 16, 2019 7:00 am

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Douglas Officials Say Invasive Species Problems & Fixes May Be Different For Them Than Saugatuck

        Coming on the heels of their critique of the City of Saugatuck’s approach to controlling Phragmites and other invasive species in the Kalamazoo Harbor area,  Douglas city leadership has come to the conclusion that the problem is of a different nature depending on what side of the harbor—Saugatuck or Douglas—one is talking about.
        Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere told his council two weeks ago, “We have a little different situation than the City of Saugatuck (regarding invasive species). We have three different property owners on the Wade’s Bayou waterfront that have spread (herbicides) on their own.”
        “The problem is more intense at Wade’s Bayou than at any other marsh area (in the Douglas harbor area),” he added.
        Douglas officials want to coordinate a united, regional effort—one involving Saugatuck, Douglas, as well as Saugatuck Township—to confront the pesky plant, which can grow up to 15-feet tall and wreak havoc on native fauna and flora.  
        A few weeks back, Douglas city officials criticized Saugatuck’s  plan addressing Phragmites, deeming it myopic because the plan only involved Saugatuck’s side of the harbor when, they argued, it should have been a coordinated “regional” effort, also involving Douglas as well as Saugatuck Township.
        In October, Saugatuck contracted with Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway for $5,000 to come up with a conservation plan to address the encroaching plants via application of, according to Outdoor Discovery, an environmentally safe herbicide on about 360 acres of the Kalamazoo River.
        “This plans calls for a way to keep invasive species (especially Phragmites) at bay,” said Outdoor Discovery Conservation Land Manager Ben Heerspink.
        “It is the first step in a plan that will more than likely be adjusted (and expanded) going forward.”
        For the time being, Saugatuck’s project does not entail management, much less eradication of Phragmites, where it is most intense: at the Blue Star Highway bridge.
        Nor does the plan call for “prescribed burnings,” which is the use of fire under specific conditions with specific techniques as a way to maintain and restore native grasslands.
        Despite different circumstances—no private property owners on the Saugatuck side have taken control measures on their own— Douglas officials are currently endeavoring to piggyback on Saugatuck’s plan.
        Douglas officials are in contact with Outdoor Discovery as well as their counterparts in Saugatuck.

Douglas Officials Say Invasive Species Problems & Fixes May Be Different For Them Than Saugatuck

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