The National Park Service recently announced that contractors with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) have begun treating an invasive aquatic plant species known as Phragmites australis with herbicide at the Bodie Island Lighthouse and pond within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
The boardwalk near the Bodie Island Lighthouse may be closed during certain times of the day when spraying is occurring near the site from October 30 to October 31.
Signage is present at the site, and other general information is available at the Bodie Island Visitor Center adjacent to the lighthouse, which will remain open throughout the project.
Phragmites, informally known as common reed, out competes and blocks out native salt marsh vegetation, and provides little to no food or shelter for most salt marsh-dependent wildlife. It alters wetland hydrology and increases the potential for fire in infested areas. Upon the removal of phragmites, native plants will be able to recover via seed, wind, and animal dispersal, and hydrological flow of the area.
These plants have been an issue for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for years. An invasive plant species that has been around for centuries, this tall and pliable reed has been overtaking large swaths of the area’s marshes and soundside regions, elbowing out other native vegetation which used to thrive in the local landscape.
In 2012, the National Park Service (NPS) estimated that approximately 800 acres of brackish-water marsh in the park was being severely impacted by Phragmites, and in 2012 and 2013, the park began an effort in cooperation with the NPS Southeastern Exotic Plant Management team to begin treating patches of Phragmites to prevent a continued spread into other areas of the National Seashore.
Sabrina Henry, an Environmental Protection Specialist for the National Park Service (NPS), reported in an earlier interview that the NPS is looking into future aerial spraying options, which will address the problem on a much larger scale.
“First we need a more extensive mapping of where we are seeing the species, and where it’s going,” she said. “But we’re working on a project for [applying] aerial spray to larger infestation areas.”
While steps are taken towards a more streamlined response to the common reed infestation, Henry reported that the NCDOT will continue to treat roughly 100 acres near the Bodie Island Lighthouse over next five years.