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Who are we?
Wetland Watch is a 501c3 volunteer organization dedicated to protecting wetlands of the Spring Lake community, and beyond. Our mission is to protect remaining wetlands and, though education, raise community awareness about the importance of wetlands. Wetlands are valuable resources that help to reduce flooding and provide homes for unique and endangered wildlife, and have specialized soil that purifies our drinking water. Throughout history, the wetlands have protected us. Isn't it time we protect them?
Progress treating invasive Phragmites:

Brief History of Phragmites Treatment

in Northern Ottawa County

as of March 2014

In 2009, Wetland Watch, a small, local, grass-roots organization, requested that the Spring Lake Village Council set aside $1,000 to treat invasive Phragmites in Mill Point Park. The Village continues to treat invasive Phragmites as needed in this preserve. 

In 2010, Wetland Watch applied to the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation for a grant to deal invasive Phragmites on Harbor Island. The Foundation granted $30,000 from their Greatest Needs Fund, to be matched 1:1, to pay for a three year Phragmites control program.  The Grand Haven Board of Light and Power helped us meet our match. 

Through this project, and with the help of City Manager Pat McGinnis, Wetland Watch joined with other interested parties to form the Ottawa County Invasive Phragmites Control Group. Members include Ottawa County Parks, Ottawa Conservation District, CardnoJFNew, Annis Water Research Institute, Muskegon Conservation District, the Cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg and the Village of Spring Lake.  We continue to meet every other month with monthly sub-committee meetings as need. We are working on a plan for ongoing treatment of Harbor Island. 

John Nash, Spring Lake Township Supervisor, spearheaded a fund raising effort to control invasive Phragmites around the shores of Spring Lake, particularly the heavily infested Pettys Bayou. This work was done in 2011 and 2012 with biomass removal. 

Isolated patches of invasive Phragmites in Ferrysburg were treated by the Muskegon Conservation District in 2011, paid for by donation. 

In 2011, Wally Obits, president emeritus of Wetland Watch, personally delivered permission and payment agreements to and collected from every resident of Lloyds Bayou. Ninety residents agreed to pay $25 each. Treatment was done in late September, 2011. In 2013, the Lloyds Bayou Lake Board has officially been reconstituted and will assess home and property owners for ongoing monitoring and treatment. 

One of our OCIPCG founding members was the Nature Conservancy. With Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds, Pottawattamie, Stearns and Bruce Bayous in the mouth of the Grand River were included in the treatment plan. This work was done in 2013. 

In 2013, the OCIPCG gained traction for a plan to treat treatment heavy infestations of Phragmites on the islands in the mouth of the Grand. We contacted property owners, most of whom signed on and contributed to a plan of aerial spraying of over 40 acres. This was done in 2013 and included properties abutting the Lloyds Bayou Channel.

Ottawa County Parks was a recipient of a Fish and Wildlife restoration grant to protect wild rice habitat, currently compromised by invasive Phragmites.  This grant will cover 75% of home and property owner cost for a second year of treatment. We are also in the planning stage of contacting home and property owners along the banks of the lower Grand.

The Ottawa Conservation District has also been successful with funding that has brought on board a treatment specialist, giving the OCD the capacity to treat small patches on private land.

Note: Wetland Watch focuses on invasive Phragmites (Phragmites Australis) because they pose are great threat to our local wetlands. A phragmites plant can grow up to 15 feet tall and sends out rhizomes up to 60 feet long. They progate by rhizomes, rhizome fragments, and seeds. Phragmites stands outcompete other wetland plants, easily catch fire and decrease wildlife habitat. When left untreated, they create a dense monoculture that impedes recreation, depresses home values, and spreads to vulnerable areas. Northern Ottawa County is actively controlling invasive Phragmites with the goal of becoming an area where maintenence is a matter of rapid detection and rapid response.

Click here for an information sheet about invasive Phragmites.

The Ottawa County Invasive Phragmites Control Group, in which we participate, meets bimonthly, sharing resources of information and expertise, with a regional approach to dealing with Phragmites in northern Ottawa County. For more information, please contact Leslie Newman