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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: August 05, 2009
Mapping of invasive plants by helicopter to begin
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is conducting
a mapping project to locate and document Phragmites, an invasive
wetland plant, around Back Bay and along the Chesapeake Bay shore from
Smith Point to New Point Comfort. A small helicopter, trained observers
and a geographic positioning system (GPS) device will map areas as
small as one-eighth of an acre.
“We’re hoping to complete the project this year,” said DCR project manager Rick Myers. “Once all the stands in an area are mapped, strategic approaches to control this problem plant can be developed.”
The non-native variety of Phragmites is a tall, perennial grass that takes over native plants and alters wildlife habitat by forming dense single-species stands.
To map Phragmites, the helicopter flies low to the ground to obtain the plant’s accurate location. Vegetation, wildlife and landowners will not be disturbed any more than is necessary. The project will continue throughout the summer and early fall.
“We make all of the mapped Phragmites location data available to the general public,” said Myers. “DCR now has a web-based Phragmites Mapping Application that provides landowners a means to assess Phragmites invasions on their own land in order to make plans for its control.”
For more information on Phragmites in Virginia and to explore the mapping application, visit the DCR website at www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/invspmnginv.shtml or contact DCR Stewardship Biologist Kevin Heffernan at (804) 786-9112. Phragmites information collected on the Rappahannock River in 2007 and the Eastern Shore in 2008 is now available in the mapping application. Back Bay and Chesapeake Bay shoreline data collected this summer should be available by winter of 2009-2010. Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under a cooperative agreement with DCR.