Virginia CZM Program 2007 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

10.03

Grantee:

Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation - Natural Heritage

Project Title:

Phragmites Education and Management

Project Description as Proposed:

The Eastern Shore Seaside of Virginia continues to experience rapid invasion by non-native Phragmites. During the past decade the amount of Phragmites on the Seaside has approximately doubled and a 2004 aerial census conducted under the Seaside Heritage Program (SHP) measured 2,024 acres of Phragmites. This census and mapping of Seaside Phragmites has established a sound basis for prioritized control treatments, serves as a benchmark for future assessments of Phragmites spread and control measure effectiveness, and provides landowners a key tool for assessing the extent of Phragmites on their property. Control efforts funded by SHP have resulted directly in herbicide treatment of over 370 acres of Phragmites while influencing other organizations to treat nearly 700 additional acres. This scope of work for Year Six consists of four primary components:

1) Continued Phragmites control treatments and monitoring on high priority locations, with a goal of controlling up to 150 acres using the approved wetland herbicide, 'Habitat.' Treatments will be applied only on lands held in the public interest.

2) A continued series of educational programs to inform Eastern Shore landowners about the reasons and methods for controlling Phragmites on their property.

3) Finalization of a draft Phragmites Management Plan developed for the Eastern Shore Seaside in Year Five.

4) Conduct another aerial census of Phragmites on the Seaside to (1) evaluate success of SHP
control efforts, (2) determine rate at which untreated Phragmites has expanded since the
previous census, and (3) identify any new invasions not detected during the 2004 census.

Federal Funding:

$70,000

Project Contact:

Richard K Myers - (804) 371-6204; Rick.Myers@dcr.virginia.gov

Project Status:

Project Open- 10/1/07 - 9/30/08; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Brochure - Phragmites 'Marsh Invader' (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Project Objectives:
1) Conduct educational programs to inform Eastern Shore landowners about the reasons and methods for controlling Phragmites on their property; and, reprint a new technical handbook that focuses on informing landowners about why and how to control Phragmites;
2) conduct Phragmites monitoring and control actions on the Seaside;
3) finalize a Phragmites Management Plan for the Seaside;
4) conduct a second aerial GPS census of Phragmites occurrences on the Seaside, analyze data, and report trends and changes in Phragmites abundance and distribution since 2004.

Results:
1) Two workshops were conducted to educate Eastern Shore landowners about the reasons and methods for controlling Phragmites. A total of 54 landowners attended. Recommendations were made to use appropriate herbicides judiciously, to use contracted professional pest control specialists, and to combine resources with neighboring landowners to bring application costs down. Maps and data developed from the 2004 census project were provided to landowners for assessing quantities and locations of Phragmites currently occurring on or near their property. The Virginia Phragmites Mapping Application web site (http://128.172.160.130/phrag/) was introduced so that participating landowners could access mapped information via the internet, allowing them to assess the Phragmites invasion on their own lands and develop effective control strategies. Last, an additional 3000 copies of the new Phragmites control guidebooks (developed during Year Five) were re-printed.

2) On 9/21/08, herbicide was applied to 112 acres of Phragmites at two high priority locations using a contracted aerial applicator. DCR staff coordinated closely with NASA officials and TNC resource managers, respectively, to apply treatments at Wallops Island Launch Facility (80 acres) and Parramore Island Natural Area Preserve (32 acres), both in Accomack County.

3) A Management Plan for Phragmites australis on the Seaside of the Eastern Shore was completed and will be made available to landowners and land managers on the DCR and DEQ websites.

4) A second aerial census of Phragmites on the Eastern Shore Seaside was completed in fall 2008. Results indicate both significant decreases resulting from control efforts and substantial increases due to expansion of uncontrolled Phragmites. Some specific examples illustrating change in abundance and distribution of Phragmites on the Seaside from 2004 to 2008 follow.
' Overall Phragmites abundance on the Seaside decreased slightly (- 3%) from 2004 to 2008. Decreases resulting from control measures approximately offset existing patch expansion and new patch establishment.
' Areas where no control treatments were applied experienced marked increases in Phragmites abundance. The Machipongo River area showed an increase from 45 acres in 2004 to 96 acres in 2008 (+ 113 %).
' For all Seaside private landholdings combined where no control treatments were applied, Phragmites expanded from 657 to 805 acres, an overall increase of 22% and equivalent to 5.5% per year.
' On lands that supported 706 acres of Phragmites in 2004 but which received control treatments during the census interval, a collective reduction of 238 acres of Phragmites was observed - a decrease of 34%.

Extensive efforts to control Phragmites on the Seaside over the last four years have prevented what otherwise would have been a large overall increase in Phragmites abundance. These results underscore the importance of on-going efforts to control Phragmites on conservation lands and also to influence greater numbers of private landowners to treat 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: Laura.McKay@deq.virginia.gov

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to Virginia.Witmer@deq.virginia.gov

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


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