Buffalo, NY – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District, in coordination with the Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC), has begun management of multiple aquatic invasive plant species at Walnut Beach, Ashtabula, OH.
As part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the ecosystem restoration project team has planned, designed, and is implementing a full-scale project to demonstrate means of removing and controlling aquatic invasive plants in concert with restoration of valuable native species. A particular area of focus is control of the non-native perennial grass Phragmites australis (common reed). Its rapid expansion has devastated aquatic, wetland, and riparian habitats throughout North America. The site encompasses approximately 43 acres, of which approximately 26 acres are dominated by invasive plant species. General treatment options identified for implementation include: mechanical removal, chemical treatment, and habitat modification (restoration).
The $997,000, five-year treatment contract, was awarded to Ecology & Environment, Inc. for ecosystem restoration of 31 acres at Walnut Beach in Ashtabula, OH. To date, under this contract the contractor has removed approximately 88 tons of invasive biomass from 23 acres, and has cut and treated stands of European Black Alder at the site.
Nuisance plant management and native restoration strategies were developed jointly by USACE Buffalo District, ERDC and the contractor, with focus on applying adaptive management as the project progresses.
Monitoring ecosystem responses to management is an important component of the project.
“The USACE Buffalo District, ERDC and the contractor were very cognizant of the important role Walnut Beach plays in regards to the bird population,” said Craig Forgette, USACE Buffalo District project manager. “Before work was started, and during, bird surveys were completed to ensure the bird population was not harmed. Birds surveys will also be indicators of change in ecological function of the site as the project progresses.”
Additionally, ERDC and the contractor are conducting periodic plant community surveys to evaluate successes and failures of applied methods.
In 2010, the Obama Administration created the multi-year, multi-agency initiative to restore the Great Lakes. GLRI funds are administered and distributed through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. For additional information about the GLRI program visit: http://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/GreatLakesRestorationInitiative.aspx.