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Removal of invasive phragmites slated for Great Pond in Southold

Great Pond is a few steps closer to being largely free of phragmites, a tall invasive reed species that had encroached into the freshwater pond in Southold. 

The Kenney’s-McCabe’s Beach Civic Association and the Great Pond Restoration Committee in April received a wetlands permit for a project to remove phragmites in the pond, which has surrounded the pond in some spots well over several feet thick. Still required for the work is a permit from the DEC to give the go-ahead for the removal of  phragmites, said Group for the East End vice president Aaron Virgin. 

The civic association secured a $90,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation they applied for through Group for the East End, said civic president John Betsch. 

“This is a great civic association project,” Mr. Betsch said. 

Depending on the DEC go-ahead and when a contractor is available, the project could begin next spring, Mr. Betsch said. 

Phragmites, which steal nutrients and space from other plants and creatures, as well as block views and access to the pond, will be removed from the water and on land. 

In order to remove phragmites on land, property owners must sign a letter of agreement. Forty out of 42 homeowners have signed letters, Mr. Betsch. The property of those who don’t sign will be bypassed, he said. 

“We realized a year or two ago that the phragmites had just really taken over,” Ken Richter of the pond restoration committee said. 

When the project gets going, phragmites in the water will be removed by hydro-rake, Mr. Betsch said. The idea is to pull out the rhizomes, which are underground stems that can grow roots and shoots that allow the plants to spread. 

The reeds will be piled on Lake Court to dry and will be moved to a landfill in Yaphank through an agreement with Suffolk County, Mr. Betsch said. 

Native plants, which also still need to be identified, will be planted in place of the invasive reeds. 

The project comes about a decade after restoration efforts at Marion Lake in East Marion where phragmites were removed after residents collaborated with the DEC to rid of the invasive species.

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