Spraying to begin at Mentor Marsh to kill invasive grass

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MENTOR, OH -  To look at the lush landscape in the Mentor Marsh most folks see just a beautiful marsh full of towering plants.

But if you're a botanist, you see millions and millions of problems in the form of an invasive grass called Phragmites.

Phragmites is a grass that is native to Asia and Europe and doesn't belong along the shores of Lake Erie. Experts at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, who are caretakers of the marsh, say the invasive species is flourishing to the tune of more than 250 million individual plants across 600 acres.

And that's forced out the native plants that should be growing in the marsh.

John Detrick has lived across the street from the marsh for many years. He says he’d like to see the tall grass go because it always burns.

“There was ash falling out of the sky...it falls on your house and clogs your gutters," Detrick said. “There was a fire 12 years ago in 2001 that was a real bad one there was ash floating down.”

Helicopters are tentatively scheduled to start spraying the marsh with Aquaneat, an herbicide similar to Roundup that kills water plants, on September 21 .

But with so many homes next to the marsh, some folks are concerned that it could cause problems with plants and animals. One of the ingredients, glyphosate, has been put on a list of cancer-causing agents in California.

Officials with the museum have already used Aquaneat on the marsh.

In a statement, the museum's Associate Director of Natural Areas and Botany Renee Boronka told Fox 8:

“In 2004, the museum used Aquaneat on a five-acre test patch of Mentor Marsh, and today not only are the invasive Phragmites eliminated from those five acres but a stunning diversity of native wildflowers and pollinators have rebounded without any adverse effects to the surrounding area.”

Areas without the Phragmites are full of grass, cattails and other native plants.

Dietrick says he has his concerns about the spraying but keeping the marsh beautiful is all that he’d like to see.

“The animals - I don't want anything hurting the animals. I like the beauty of it and seeing the animals walk around you don't get to see that everywhere." he said.

Other states have also used Aquaneat to clear out Phragmites.  There is even a Great Lakes commission that works on ways to treat and remove the grass.

Mentor Marsh