NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 30, 2014

Our view: Phragmites warnings should be heeded

If there is a singular physical characteristic that makes this region unique, it is the Great Marsh.

There is nothing else like it in the region; indeed, its closest rival can be found far to the south of here. There is no other place along the 570-mile New England coastline where one can find a salt marsh as large and diverse as what we have along our local coast.

Though it appears at casual glance as a barren flatland of marshy ground crisscrossed by serpentine rivers and creeks, it is our most important incubator of wildlife. It is the spawning ground for a wide variety of marine animals, and from that springs a complex food chain. Its loss would be catastrophic to our local ecology. Like Chesapeake Bay in the Mid-Atlantic states, the Great Marsh is a hub of vitality for the natural world.

The marsh’s vastness masks the warning signs of trouble. One of those signs has been well documented of late by a small team of locals — Gregg Moore, Geoff Walker, Peter Phippen and Richard Hydren. Their film, “Danger in the Reeds,” explores the creeping growth of invasive phragmites in the Great Marsh and the significant damage this invasive plant is doing.

The short documentary is playing to rave reviews among locals who have viewed it. The film can be seen online, via producer Hydren’s website. It’s well worth viewing by those who appreciate the marsh, and perhaps more importantly, it will spur people to action.

Phragmites are tall and willowy reeds, growing to nearly 20 feet in height. They are not natural to this region; they are believed to have been inadvertently brought here aboard European ships. A thin but strong central reed towers over the plant, topped by a fluffy clump of seed pods. They grow in thick clumps, overshadowing the marsh’s grasses. They change the dynamics of the marsh by destroying the natural grasslands and thus destroying the habitat that spawns marine life.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans