Removing Pests in Milton

Chris & Annie are working hard to remove Phragmites, an invasive plant, in Milton.

NepRWA staff and volunteers are working to remove Phragmites to help restore Pine Tree Brook in Milton.  The plan is to cut back the dead material from past year’s growth and burn the cut reeds (seen in the video) for site preparation.

In the fall of 2018, NepRWA is having a licensed herbicide applicator treat the new sprouts that are bound to come up this spring and summer. Prepping the site in the winter is an important step because it allows easy access to the entire patch for the herbicide applicators and it reduces the amount of herbicide they will use because they will easily be able to target only new living growth. While our strong preference is always to avoid the use of herbicides, when it comes to Phragmites there is no other feasible approach for controlling this extremely invasive plant.

The fall is the best time to apply herbicide because that is when the Phragmites is moving resources, and consequently herbicide towards its rhizome for winter storage. Killing the rhizome is the key to controlling Phragmites.

The plan does not currently involve planting anything else at the site, although we may need to. There is a lot of really healthy wetland surrounding the site and our hope is that clearing out the Phragmites will be enough to activate the seedbank. We will continue to monitor the site for many years and actively plant if necessary, and of course we would only plant natives that are found in the surrounding wetlands.

For any questions about this project, please contact NepRWA Environmental Scientist, Chris Hirsch at

5 responses to “Removing Pests in Milton”

  1. Pamela Brennan says:

    Could you let me know what herbicide is used on the Phragmites?

    • Chris Hirsch says:

      Hi Pamela,
      It depends a bit on site specifics, but the most common herbicides used for treating phragmites are wetland safe formulations of glyphosate or imazapyr.

  2. Marvin Mahoney says:

    Such great work, thanks for all you do!

  3. Liz MacNeil says:

    Shame on me for not knowing phragmites were invasive and undesirable. Or does location matter? Phragmites have established a small colony on Malibu beach in Dorchester. Should/Could this be the start of something NOT great? Can/Should it receive similar treatment as in Milton?

    • Chris Hirsch says:

      Hi Liz,

      Phragmites isn’t really a desirable species to have anywhere around here. Its possible that it could spread if not taken care of. I’m not familiar with the patch you’re referring to, but if it has open space it will likely spread. If you’d like to do something about it the first step is to contact the landowner and get their approval.

      The Phragmites in the video is on town property and the conservation commission asked us to treat all of the major invasive species in the area as part of our dam removal project on Pine Tree Brook. We are currently trying to figure out how we can include invasive species removal as part of our regular programming and do more projects like this in the future.


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