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The interaction Between Science and Policy in the Control of Phragmites in Oligohaline Marshes of Delaware Bay


Address correspondence to J. M. Teal, email


Public Service Enterprise Group of New Jersey (PSEG) restored Delaware Bay marshes to enhance fish production as part of a mitigation negotiated in the company's New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Restoration meant control of an introduced type of the common reed, Phragmites, which had displaced Spartina alterniflora and S. patens. Phragmites dominance altered the function and structure of the brackish marshes and reduced habitat value by raising and flattening marsh surface and covering smaller tidal creeks. A common control technique is to use an herbicide—glyphosate. Public concern about herbicide use led to public meetings where the concerns were discussed and data provided. The scientific information regarding the herbicide did not satisfy the public. PSEG and New Jersey regulators agreed to test other methods for reed control and limit the amount of herbicide used. Experiments with methods of Phragmites control indicate that herbicide application over three or more growing seasons, concentrating in an area until control was complete, is the most effective control method.