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Space Invaders

Spa Creek Conservancy fights phrag

Crews and volunteers with Spa Creek Conserv­ancy are claiming success against a nasty foe.
    Thick stands of the invasive reed phragmites, a common enemy across the Bay watershed, have been choking Spa Creek. The grasses quickly take over a marsh community, crowding out native plants, changing hydrology, altering wildlife habitat and increasing the danger of fires. Tall stems and dense growth block light to other plants. Its rhizomes spread rapidly.
    “It gets to be 15 feet tall,” says conservancy president Amy Clements. “We are removing this invasive grass so fish and the critters that we want in the creek can come back.”
    Behind Bates Middle School near the center of Annapolis, a hired crew of specialists has pulled out nearly 400 truckloads of the invader. After a week of work, the creek looks twice as wide. As phragmites is determined, herbicides must be sprayed to kill off any returning to the tidal marsh next year.
    Eventually native species will be replanted for forage and nesting.
    The stream bed has also been restored in a stretch of the creek, with downed trees removed and stone and gravel added to raise the stream bottom and create pools for fish during high and low water. Workers found a pair of snapping turtles nesting along the creek and marked the spot where the female laid her eggs.
    Work continues above Spa Road to Lincoln Drive at the top of the headwaters, with reconstruction expected to be completed this fall.