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Virginia CZM Program 2005 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

FY2005 Task 9.05


Department of Conservation & Recreation-Division of Natural Heritage

Project Title:

Management and Education to Control Phragmites on the Seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore

Project Description as Proposed:

The Eastern Shore Seaside is currently experiencing a rapid invasion by non-native Phragmites. Work during the first three years of the Seaside Heritage Program has determined that at least 2,024 acres of Phragmites now occur on the Seaside, with about two-thirds along the mainland-lagoon ecotone and the remainder on the barrier islands. Indications are that during the last decade (mid-1990’s to 2004) the amount of Phragmites on the Seaside has almost doubled. The 2004 census and mapping of Seaside Phragmites has established a sound basis for prioritized control treatments and will serve as a benchmark for future assessments of Phragmites spread and control measure effectiveness. These maps will also assist private landowners in assessing the extent of Phragmites on their property. The scope of work for year four consists of five elements:

1) A refined GIS-based Phragmites Risk Assessment.

2) A new GIS tool to assess which land holdings on the Seaside currently support Phragmites invasions and to what extent – by overlaying the 2004 Phragmites map on Northampton and Accomack County parcel maps.

3) A series of educational programs to inform Eastern Shore landowners about methods to control Phragmites on their property.

4) Phragmites management prescriptions for various specific control situations including colonial bird nesting locations, mainland forest-marsh interfaces, barrier island swales, and urban interface settings.

5) Phragmites control treatments and effectiveness monitoring on high priority locations, with a goal of controlling up to 200 acres using the approved wetland herbicide, “Habitat.” All treatments will be on public lands only.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Richard K Myers - 804.371.6204:

Project Status:

Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

A series of five workshops was conducted to educate Eastern Shore landowners about the reasons and methods for controlling Phragmites. Emphasis was placed on the proper, judicious, and responsible use of approved herbicides, with a recommendation to use contracted pest control specialists and combine resources with neighboring landowners to bring down costs. Maps developed from 2004 aerial census data were made available to landowners for assessing quantities and locations of Phragmites currently occurring on their property.

High priority target areas for Phragmites treatment in late summer 2006 were identified on the Seaside, all held in the public interest. DCR staff worked closely with the three landowners, NASA, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to implement control measures for Phragmites at Wallops Island Launch Facility, Parramore Island Natural Area Preserve, and Mockhorn Wildlife Management Area. DCR contracted with an aerial pesticide applicator who treated a total of 146 acres of Phragmites in September 2006. Acres treated per site were: 92 acre at Wallops; 40 acres at Parramore Island; 14 acres at Mockhorn. In addition, DCR staff completed two acres of ground-application control of Phragmites at Wreck Island Natural Area Preserve. In all, 148 acres of Phragmites was treated in 2006 as a result of Seaside Heritage Program funding and support. Extensive ground and aerial monitoring of areas on Parramore Island treated in 2005 was performed during May and August of 2006.

The initial GIS-based Risk Assessment developed in 2005 (Year 3) was improved upon in Year 4 by using a new Least Cost Analysis GIS model, in combination with existing rare species and significant natural community data layers (Natural Heritage element occurrence data), intersected with mapped Seaside Phragmites locations. This assessment predicts which natural heritage resource occurrences are most threatened by Phragmites invasion. Phragmites patches located near high risk resources are considered as a high priority target to be scheduled for future control treatments.

New management prescriptions were developed for specific Seaside habitat types such as colonial bird nesting sites, mainland forest-marsh interfaces, barrier island swales, and dredge spoil sites. These prescriptions will be incorporated into the planned Year 5 Phragmites Management Plan.

A new Web tool, the Phragmites Mapping Application (PMA) was constructed for the purpose of assessing which Seaside land holdings currently support Phragmites invasions and to what extent. The user can zoom, pan, view, and print maps of Phragmites occurrences on the Seaside, as documented during Year Two (2004) of the Seaside Heritage Program. Phragmites occurrences may be superimposed over the county tax parcel layers and polygons can be screen digitized to measure areas covered by Phragmites.

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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