Phragmites sprayed in Green Bay area

Jason Wilke sprays phragmites along Velp Avenue in Howard, August 31, 2016 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

HOWARD (WLUK) -- An effort to eliminate an invasive species in the Green Bay area is taking to the field.

Crews are spraying the reed called phragmites, but controlling the tall, thick grass can present a challenge.

When it comes to battling phragmites, contractors say its best to take an aggressive approach.

"We got some really great machines here. The marsh master can basically go through any kind of marshy situation, and be able to treat the phragmites where it grows," said Josh LaPointe, Applied Ecological Services.

Crews treated the area near Duck Creek in Howard Wednesday morning.

Just down the road, Jason Wilke and his crew sprayed a steady blue stream of herbicide into the reeds along Velp Avenue.

"We started yesterday, and we did about 15 acres yesterday, so we're off to a good start. We're hoping to do 20-40 acres a day, with equipment, and backpack sprayers," said Jason Wilke, Nature Care Ecological Consulting and Services.

"Phragmites is a difficult invasive, because it can spread easily by rhizomes under the ground. It can spread by the seed heads. It takes over the habitat in any area that it starts to spread," said Angela Kowalzek-Adrians, Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission.

In the coming weeks crews plan to spray about 800 acres of the invasive grass in the Green Bay area.

"The ideal time to treat phragmites is right now. We want to get it before the frost. It's perfect time to spray it now, but it could be mid-October and you could start to see it begin to go dormant," said Kowalzek-Adrians.

And as the marsh masters chug through the underbrush, crews hope the phragmites will soon be gone.

"We got one month. Obviously we have to do it on beautiful days like today, but we need to get through our acreages. We'll work as many hours as we need to, to get it done," said LaPointe.

The price tag for the two-year project is about $1 million. Federal money from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is picking up the cost.

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