This page is http://www.stewartfarm.org/phragmites/permits.php
This site hosted by StewartFarm.org, 2007 Stewart Road, Harsens Island, Michigan 48028.
Phragmites Control - Permits
Note: We do not consider reading the handouts a substitute for attending a workshop where you can see and hear all of the details of this subject. In addition, being able to clarify any questions you have about the materials provided can be very important in making sure the work is done properly and that the results will be rewarding. We intend to conduct future workshops to meet the demand. Please let us know if you are interested. There is no charge for these workshops.
First floor views from Harsens Island home completely blocked by Phragmites
Phragmites Control Permits in Michigan
By Bob Williams, Bob@StewartFarm.org
The following is my attempt at a simplified description of the Phargmites control permit requirements in the State of Michigan. This information is usually presented as part of a "Phragmites Control Workshop." The subject of permits for Phragmites control can be complicated and not easy to figure out by yourself. It is better understood when discussed in a workshop setting where the reader can ask questions, see maps and diagrams, hear examples and be involved in the discussion. It is provided here only as a guide. . For proper interpretation of applicability of Michigan rules to your particular situation contact the MDEQ and/or the MDA. Additional information and links to appropriate websites are available at the bottom of this page.
Permits to Herbicide Phragmites
Army Corps of Engineers - ACE
We know of no ACE regulations on treating plants in or near the water.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality - MDEQ
There are no restriction and no permit needed to treat phragmites which is above the ordinary high water mark (OHWM). In addition, no permit is needed for treating Phragmites in or around a private pond of 10 acres or less which has no outlet, where all owners of the pond give their permission and there is no record of threatened or endangered species at the site. In this case a permit is not needed, however, you will need to use only herbicides which are approved by the DEQ for Aquatic Nuisance Control.
(Harsens Island residents please note: The OHWM of Lake St. Clair is 874.7.)
Using herbicides in and around other inland wetlands, ponds, lakes etc. in most cases will require a permit and you will need to use only herbicides which are approved by the MDEQ for Aquatic Nuisance Control. (see below for webpage)
If you wish to treat Phragmites in the area between the ordinary high water mark and the current water's edge or which is in the water you will need an Aquatic Nuisance Control (ANC) permit and you will need to use only herbicides which are approved by the DEQ for Aquatic Nuisance Control. This also applies to waters of the canals and the adjacent lands.
All of the above herbicide treatments are regulated under the Aquatic Nuisance Control, Part 33, Act 451 of 1994. Permit applications are accepted only October 1 through August 15. If you are going to spray starting in the beginning of August you should submit your application no later than mid June. The fee will be $75 for up to ½ acre, but, can be up to $1500 for large parcels. Larger areas along the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair (not inland) can apply for a single permit for only a $75 fee. Acreage does not matter. Individual property owners do not need to apply for a separate permit, as long as the only species they are treating is phragmites. DEQ has said that they would permit up to an entire township, so if someone is willing to organize signatures for permission to treat, only one permit would be required for a group of homeowners, resulting in significant savings of time and money for the group.
Following the treatment you are required to submit a Treatment Report to the MDEQ by November 30th.
Note: According to my discussion with MDEQ staff, cutting and/or treating Phragmites with herbicide does not fall under regulations which govern "removing vegetation" since the root system stays in the ground intact to prevent erosion. Do not disturb any soils or bottomlands during the cutting and/or treating processes. We do not recommend any such disturbance to the land. In our opinion, attempting to dig out the roots will not help in the control of phragmites. If you are proposing to dredge or remove soil, place any fill material or drain any surface water, a wetlands permit is most likely required. You should consult with the Michigan DEQ.
For the MDEQ webpage entitled "Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites"
For information on MDEQ approved chemicals go to
To obtain MDEQ permit information for Aquatic Nuisance Control go to
To obtain a copy of the sign required for posting prior to treatment of aquatic
nuisance under an MDEQ permit go to
To obtain a copy of the MDEQ Treatment Report for Chemical Treatment of Nuisance
Aquatic Plant and/or Algea Growth go to
If you have any questions about the permit process you can Email: DEQ-LWM-ANC@michigan.gov or telephone 517-241-1554.
Michigan Department of Agriculture - MDA
There are no permits required from the MDA for Phragmites herbicide treatments. However, if you choose to hire a company to do the work and they are going to spray near water they must have a Pesticide Application Business License with a Category 5 (Aquatic Pest Management) classification and the person who does the work needs to be an MDA Certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator whose certification includes Category 5. A list of Certified Commercial Pesticide Applicators is available online at http://www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-1569_16988_35288-11993--,00.html or you can call the MDA at 517-373-1087 for assistance.
Permits to cut Phragmites
Army Corps of Engineers - ACE
We know of no ACE regulations on cutting plants in or near the water.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality - MDEQ
There is no restriction on or permit needed to cut Phragmites which is on ground above the ordinary high water mark (OHWM).
If you wish to cut Phragmites in the area between the ordinary high water mark and the current water's edge or which is in the water you may need a permit.
In those areas of Michigan regulated under Michigan Inland Lakes and Streams, Part 301, a person may cut their Phragmites down to not closer than two inches from the ground or water line without a permit. The use of mechanical equipment such as brush cutters, mowers and weed whips in the water is prohibited. The use of mechanical equipment on the land is not prohibited. We recommend you consider cutting while the ground is frozen to create minimum disturbance to the soils.
In those areas of Michigan regulated under the Great Lakes Submerged Lands, Part 325, a person may cut the Phragmites but they must obtain a permit from the DEQ. With the application for permit the landowner must submit a phragmites control plan. If the applicant is requesting to mow as part of a phragmites control program in keeping with DEQ recommendations, it's likely that this authorization would be granted. Applicants requesting to mow alone, disk or otherwise eliminate all vegetation will not likely receive authorization. The use of mechanical equipment such as brush cutters, mowers and weed whips in the water is prohibited. However, cutting Phragmites in the water with mechanical equipment may be approved if cutting is done when the water is completely frozen. Restrictions would be placed in the permit language to make it clear that the permittee must take all necessary precautions to prevent disturbances that could be caused by the equipment falling through the ice. Under permit and with an invasive sepcies control plan the use of mechanical equipment on the land is not prohibited, however, we recommend you consider cutting while the ground is frozen to create minimum disturbance to the soils. In some instances you may be able to apply using a short form application. It appears that such activity may be covered under the "General Permit Category for Limited Great Lakes Shoreline Management Activities dated August 1, 2007." Authorization under the General Permit (GP) is good for a five year period. The permit fee will probably range from $50 to $100.
Comments for Harsens Island residents - Harsens Island shoreline has a unique situation. The North end of the island is regulated under Act 451 of 1994, Michigan Inland Lakes and Streams, Part 301, and South end is regulated under the Great Lakes Submerged Lands, Part 325. The line dividing the island runs across the island approximately from St. Luke's Church on the South Channel to Brown's on Middle Channel. See www.Phragmites.org (http://stewartfarm.org/phragmites/st.clairFlats301&325boundaries.jpg ) for a map of Harsens Island showing the areas regulated under each Part.
The DEQ requires that cutting of Phragmites be done as part of a defined Phragmites control plan under the General Permit. See the DEQ pamphlet "A Landowner's guide to Phragmites Control" and the four page DEQ document entitled "The Control of Phragmites Under the General Permit for Limited Great Lakes Shoreline Management Activities." Both documents are linked directly from our website at permits.phragmites.org. A Phragmites control plan will generally include an herbicide treatment followed by cutting since cutting alone may encourage the spread of the plant. The DEQ also has provisions to allow limited cutting of vegetation to a height of 30 inches where isolated or low density infestations occur between August 1 and the first killing frost. This will allow some management of the plant without use of herbicides and without removing native vegetation. In addition, limited mowing is allowed under some other provisions of the General Permit - e.g. for pathways or recreational areas. However, the General Permit (GP) does not authorize or encourage unlimited mowing of Phragmites in areas below the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) of the Great Lakes since this practice has been shown to contribute to the spread of this species.
We received an email from Peg Bostwick, Chief, Wetlands, Lakes and Stream Unit, Land and Water Management Division, MDEQ in August of 2007 which said "We are encouraging property owners to take time this fall and winter to plan for Phragmites control in 2008. Use the Phragmites control pamphlet and DEQ guidelines to evaluate options. If landowners want to use herbicides, they should decide which one, and on how large an area. Landowners may want to consider working with neighbors to define a larger treatment area than their own property. They may wish to take bids from herbicide applicators, and will need to apply for an Aquatic Nuisance Control (ANC) permit as well as a permit for mowing (under the GP). Again, the latter will be good for a five year period. Phragmites control can be expensive. In order to obtain the best control, careful planning is advisable - the DEQ recommends that planning begin now."
For information on how to obtain permits go to www.michigan.gov/deq
If you have any questions about the MDEQ permit process you can telephone the MDEQ - Tracy Collin at 517-241-4506.
Michigan Department of Agriculture - MDA
We know of no MDA regulations regarding the cutting of Phragmites.
Permits to burn Phragmites
Though the MDEQ may regulate the cutting of phragmites in some situations it appears that they do not regulate the burning of Phragmites. In addition the ACE and MDA appear to have no regulations regarding the buring of Phragmites. However, a local burn permit will be required, if allowed at all. In some communities no burning of property is allowed at all. Consult with the local fire department. If you are going to burn we recommend that you use only a professional burn crew to burn Phragmites.
Permits to physically remove Phragmites
Removing, in this case, means digging out or attempting to remove the roots. We do NOT recommend any methods of phragmites control which involves any disturbance to soil or to bottomlands below the water. In our opinion, attempting to dig out the roots will not help control phragmites and in most cases may make the situation worse. If you are proposing to dig out roots, dredge or remove soil, place any fill material or drain any surface water a wetlands permit is most likely required. You should consult with the Michigan DEQ
here to go to Phragmites.org webpage on Michigan Laws and Rules
MDEQ Requirements on
Controlling Plants such as Phragmites in Michigan
Following are links to the Michigan DEQ (http://www.michigan.gov/deq) webpages about permits related to phragmites control.
Land and Water Management Division
Great Lakes Shoreline Management
and Management of Invasive Phragmites"
Michigan DEQ pdf
file of a pamphlet published in 2007
"A Landowner's Guide to Phragmites Control"
Michigan DEQ pdf
file of a more technical pamphlet published in 2007. It was writen primarily
for land or resource managers from agencies, organizations, and business and
extension agents or others in a similar position. It is more technical in
nature than the Landowner's Guide referenced above.
A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites
Michigan DEQ pdf
file of a 4 page explanitory document published in 2007
"The Control of Phragmites Under the General Permit for Limited Great Lakes Shoreline Management Activities"
PERMIT CATEGORY FOR
LIMITED GREAT LAKES SHORELINE MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES
August 1, 2007
Island Map showing portion considered Great Lakes Bottomlands
MDEQ pages on aquatic herbicide use
Inland Lakes and Streams
Permitting Information for the Chemical Treatment of Aquatic Nuisance Plants
approved aquatic herbicides
The following DEQ Word document is not just about Phragmites,
but, may answer some of your questions about the possible need for a permit
to cut or chemically treat phragmites in Michigan.
"Aquatic Nuisance Control, Frequently Asked Questions"
The following pdf file is a document by the Michigan
DEQ about the management of aquatic plants in general. Phragmites is not
mentioned specifically, however it does cover some detailed aspects of aquatic
plant management not discussed elsewhere.
"Management of Aquatic Plants"
If you have any questions about the permit process for treating aquatic plants you can Email: DEQ-LWM-ANC@michigan.gov or telephone 517-241-1554.
If you have any questions about the permit process for shoreline management and for cutting Phragmites telephone Tracy Collin at 517-241-4506.
The office which issues DEQ permits for St. Clair County is located at Michigan DEQ, SE Michigan District Office, 27700 Donald Court,Warren, MI 48092-2793, phone: (586) 753-3700, fax: (586) 751-4690.
MDEQ Requirements Regarding
Disturbing Wetlands Soils in Michigan
On our website and in our workshops we do NOT discuss any methods of phragmites control which involves any disturbance to the soil or bottomlands below water. We do not recommend any such disturbance to the land. In our opinion, attempting to dig out the roots will not help in the control of phragmites. If you are proposing to dredge or remove soil, place any fill material or drain any surface water a wetlands permit is most likely required. You should consult with the Michigan DEQ. The following website may be of help.
DEQ -Wetlands Permits
MDA Requirements on
general use of Herbicides in Michigan
The Michigan Department of Agriculture. Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division (http://www.michigan.gov/mda/0,1607,7-125-1572_2875_31953---,00.html) is the division of the MDA which regulates and controls, within Michigan, the use of herbicides. They determine which herbicides are considered safe for the public to use and which herbicides only certified pesticide applicators may handle. I know this may be confusing, however, this is different from the Michigan DEQ which regulates which herbicides can be used on or near the waters of Michigan. In general you should not need to contact the MDA regarding the treatment of Phragmites, however, if you do, the local office of the MDA which serves St. Clair County is located at MDA Lahser Center, 26400 Lahser Rd., Suite 415, Southfield, MI 48033-7158, 248-356-1701.
If you would like to be on a general email list to receive notices of phragmites control events and workshops and information about controlling phragmites send your name to Newsletter@phragmites.org along with a message which says "subscribe."
Bob Williams and Chuck Miller are part of a committee of Harsens
Islanders to continue to study the phragmites problem on Harsens Island and
its solutions. They welcome others who would like to join the effort by further
researching the topic and sharing knowledge on eliminating phragmites. If
you are interested contact Bob Williams at Bob@StewartFarm.org.