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March 25, 2019 11:55 pm

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Saugatuck's Plan To Deal With Phragmites Not The Best, Say Douglas Officials

        It’s good the City of Saugatuck is tackling the issue of invasive species encroaching on the Kalamazoo Harbor, particularly Phragmites, but the way it is going about it is wrong, according to the Douglas City Council.
        Douglas City Council Member Lisa Greenwood, also treasurer of the Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority, added the the issue of Phragmites to Monday night’s agenda, wanting to look into the possibility of piggybacking on Saugatuck’s recent contract with Outdoor Discovery Center so as to incorporate the Douglas side of the harbor in the control and management project.
        The waters and shoreline along Blue Star Highway bridge is where the Phragmites are most prevalent and it is precisely where Outdoor Discovery’s recent Saugatuck plan will not be addressing, said Greenwood.
        At this time, the $5,000 Saugatuck project only calls for keeping the invasive species at bay, preventing them from spreading downriver from the Blue Star bridge.
        However, officials have indicated future Saugatuck plans and budgets may include more extensive management and eradication.  
        “That is great Saugatuck is doing this, but if you are going to do this, it would have been in the best interest of the cities to do it together (Saugatuck and Douglas), otherwise it (the encroachment of Phragmites) is just going to blow back and forth (between Douglas’ side of the harbor and that of Saugatuck’s),” said  Greenwood.
        Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere agreed, but proposed the effort should even be more expansive: involve Saugatuck Township as well.
        “It’s a regional problem. It is not being addressed correctly in my estimation,” said LeFevere.
        Along with a look into conducting a regional project, Douglas officials also said they want to ascertain the chemicals Outdoor Discovery uses in its invasive species management are environmentally safe before any Douglas proposal moves forward.
        LeFevere asked Greenwood to take up the matter with the Harbor Authority, a body which Douglas officials say should bring all parties together for discussion and a possible unified effort.
        Phragmites is a non-native perennial that can grow more than 15 feet tall and can easily out-compete native plants, particularly in wetlands, as well as displace native animals, experts have indicated.
        Outdoor Discovery representatives told Saugatuck officials that Phragmites has been located between the I-196 bridge and the Blue Star Highway bridge as well as Turtle Pond at Blue Star and Lake Street.
        Outdoor Discovery’s objective is to stop the pesky plant from multiplying so that it does not affect the downriver shoreline, residential areas as well as at Tallmadge Woods, Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area and the Basin shorelines.
        “We are heading in the right direction. This gives us at least a starting point; it needs to be looked at year-by-year,” said Saugatuck City Council Member Mark Bekken two weeks ago.

       Bekken was alluding to future tackling of all of the Phragmites affecting Saugatuck’s side of the Kalamazoo Harbor.
   The current plan will not involve “prescribed burnings”  which Outdoor Discovery has conducted in past years at the privately owned 1,400-acre Pottawatomie Marsh.
   The marsh is located north of where the I-196 bridge crosses the Kalamazoo River and prescribed burnings are a way to get rid of invasive species.

Saugatuck’s Plan To Deal With Phragmites Not The Best, Say Douglas Officials

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