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January 20, 2020

1/2/2020 4:06:00 PM
Phragmites may be mandated for removal; not everybody supports however

A recently announced recommendation from the committee to re-classify phragmites is awaiting a final determination by the MN Department of Agriculture Commissioner.   Any official appeal challenging the recommendation needs to be filed by January 17 during the comment period that’s open now.

There is one agency unhappy about the potential listing of phragmites and another local group that has been working towards this listing.

 The Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commission would rather not have to eradicate the stands of phragmites on its treatment plant property.
Meanwhile, the Lake Improvement District Board actively supports listing the non-native phragmites.

The sewer treatment commissions got involved in this area of biological politics years ago, when phragmites were recommended for use in reed beds inside the wastewater treatment facility grounds. It turned out, however, that Minnesota’s cold conditions did not inhibit the plant spreading, as was originally believed.    
Eliminating these plantings will be expensive, according to sewage treatment plant supervisor Mark Nelson.

Notification on the pending listing has opened 45 days of appeal or comment and the Sewage Treatment Commissioners who are responsible for the local sewer  plant approved drafting a letter opposing making phragmites a controlled noxious weed.  The letter will be sent to area state legislators, who will be asked to use whatever influence they have to delay the listing.

Among concerns is the monetary hit if the CLJSTC cities have to eliminate the phragmites. At one time the tall, strong, easily spreading plants were commonly used to take-up pollutants in wastewater ponding areas, where bio-solids settle out.  

CLJSTC also pointed out at a recent meeting there is no option for what to use to replace the reeds.  

Another worry is having no state plan approved for facilities to follow in eradicating the plants, plus at this time no state aid is being earmarked.

On the flip side of this issue, listing phragmites would be an answer to a prayer for the Lake Improvement District. The LID has battled the invasive plant to keep it from overtaking the Chisago Chain of Lakes.  It chokes out healthy flora needed for fish and waterfowl habitat and clogs access to shoreland.  

The LID has long sought phragmites to be declared by the Commissioner of Agriculture to be a controlled plant species. Then, private property owners could be compelled to remove the stands.  There also could be state aid funds set aside to defray expenses for removal.

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