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Saturday, December 10, 2016



Saturday, 8:45 AM.  7 degrees F at the ferry dock, 6 on the back porch.  Wind SSW, mostly calm with light gusts.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, with fog over the channel and fine crystalline snow falling lightly.  The humidity is 77%, the barometer 30.51" and falling.  The next ten days are predicted to be more of the same and somewhat colder.
   Reed, Phragmites australis (synonym P. communis) is a very aggressive, tall (to 20') invasive grass that spreads by runners and stolens and can form large monotypic colonies in disturbed wet areas. It out-competes other species and has little, evidently, to offer in the way of animal and bird habitat. It has become an almost universal species, with several varieties that are more specific to some locations (var. amricanus is considered native to North America).  It is very moisture loving and is used to de-water sewerage sludge at morew advanced treatment plants, such as at Bayfield, Washburn and Red Cliff, and has  escaped from those sites.   The native ecogtype is rather rare, and is considered non-invasive.  The State of Wisconsin and the federal government have eradication programs targeting the escaped foreign species.
   I find it rather ironic that one environmental actor plants Phragmites  while another attempts to destroy it.  I also find it highly improper that a favored method of control of reed is Roundup, a glyphosphate toxic to fish and which should not be used where it can contaminate water (such as at the beach, where I am sure it has been applied).  
   I have been wondering if the native ecotype could not be used in sewage treatment plants rather than the supposedly invasive species.  I have also been concerned that there are no warning signs or flags posted when spray materials are used by governmental entities, since they are mandatory for citizens and businesses. 
   These are the types of issues that most folks know nothing about and that are left to the bureaucrats to regulate, and their track record is not particularly good.
   We are often our own worst enemy in this environmentally complicated world we live in; as the comic strip character Pogo Possum used to say, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

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