Help “de-phrag” Amherst Lake with Black River Action Team

Phragmites stand at northern shore of Amherst Lake in Plymouth. Photo by Kelly Stettner
Phragmites stand at northern shore of Amherst Lake in Plymouth. Photo by Kelly Stettner

PLYMOUTH, Vt. – It’s tall, it’s aggressive, and it’s poised to conquer the Black River watershed. It’s Phragmites australus, and it’s on the shores of Amherst Lake among other places. If left unmanaged, this non-native and invasive reed will form a dense monoculture and spread unchecked, becoming a real threat to wildlife habitat, property value, and recreational enjoyment of our waterways.

The Black River Action Team and newly forming Protect Amherst Lake group are calling for “all hands on deck” for a special workday Sunday, Aug. 1, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. No boats are needed, but the soft mud this plant is growing in can suck the shoes right off a volunteer’s feet. Tight-fitting sneakers or muck-boots are recommended – or “dare to go bare” and then hose off your ankles nearby.

After extensive conversations with several key people at Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources, who’ve confirmed the invasive nature of this species of Phragmites, BRAT Director Kelly Stettner has developed a work plan that involves a combination of cutting with hand tools and possibly the careful extraction of the extensive roots of the Phragmites stand. All cut stalks will be transported just a few hundred feet to a dry upland site for careful storage until dried. Any root material collected will be stored in heavy black plastic bags to be “cooked” in the sun until completely dead. Any floating “phragments” will be captured and similarly bagged.

The thickest reeds will be cut into specific 5-to-6-inch lengths and stored off-site to dry, after which volunteers will bundle them and assemble “bee hotels” for solitary bee species.

While this is not a large stand, 20 people would make short work of it! Some tasks can be done on shore such as transporting the cut stalks to a waiting truck bed, and some can be done while sitting such as cutting reeds for the bee hotels.

Bottled water will be provided; volunteers are encouraged to bring their own snacks, hand-cutting tools like sharp pruners, and protection against sun and biting insects.

Directions and parking instructions are provided at the registration link:

Questions should be directed to BRAT Director Kelly Stettner at or by leaving voicemail at 802-738-0456.

Back To Top