A Phragmites-dominated salt marsh at Salters Pond (Dartmouth, MA). Photo/Buzzards Bay Coalition

A Phragmites-dominated salt marsh at Salters Pond (Dartmouth, MA). Photo/Buzzards Bay Coalition

At 3 salt ponds in Dartmouth and Falmouth, Massachusetts, the Buzzards Bay Coalition is leading a project to restore wetlands infested with common reed (Phragmites australis), an invasive plant that is taking over salt marshes across Buzzards Bay.

To ensure Phragmites doesn’t return, Coalition restoration staff will monitor for signs of the plant and remove any new growth they find.

At Salters Pond in Dartmouth, and Flume Pond, and Gunning Point Pond in Falmouth, Phragmites has overtaken much of the marsh habitat fringing the shore. The reed grows so thickly and uniformly that no other plants can compete.

According to BCC, the 3 ponds are ideal locations to eradicate Phragmites because they are enclosed systems without any adjoining salt marshes. Therefore, it is unlikely that Phragmites will spread from a neighboring area and re-infest the marsh once the restoration project is complete

To conduct the work, the Coalition has hired an experienced contractor that specializes in managing invasive species. Eradicating Phragmites is a 3-year process that involves a combination of herbicides and mowing that has been proven effective in similar restoration projects.

This fall, contractors are applying a herbicide that is specifically designed for wetland plants. Several weeks later, they will mow down the treated plants. During the second and third years, a series of smaller follow-up treatments will be applied to the area. This work is expected to eliminate 99% of Phragmites surrounding the ponds.

To ensure Phragmites doesn’t return, Coalition restoration staff will monitor for signs of the plant and remove any new growth they find. Over time, native species like cattails and smooth cordgrass are expected to fill in where Phragmites once dominated, restoring the marshes to their natural diversity.

 

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