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Saving Utah Lake from weed invasion

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah County (ABC 4 Utah) - Utah Lake has been invaded. Over the last 20-years, Phragmites have taken over most of its 75 miles of shoreline.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah County (ABC 4 Utah) - Utah Lake has been invaded. Over the last 20-years, Phragmites have taken over most of its 75 miles of shoreline.

Phragmites are tall, thick and green. They're a type of reed that grows close together in large stands.

So what's the problem? Phragmites choke out native plants like cattails and hard stem Bulrush.

Wildlife doesn't like it. "It doesn't taste very good," said Reed Price, Executive Director of the Utah Lake Commission.

Only mosquitoes like it. They breed in the marshes of Phragmites.

The Phragmites have taken over areas that used to have sandy beaches. The lake resorts of a generation ago have all closed. Price said, "We want to resurrect that. We want the community to embrace the lake once again."

So, the Phragmites must go. Price is directing a war of extermination. The plan to spray them with an aquatic herbicide and once dead, to squash them. The squashing speeds decomposition.

The lake commission has also tried burning. We have done burns before," said Aaron Eagar who supervises the Phragmites program.

Burning is faster and cheaper. However, there are regulatory hoops to jump through.

And then there's the smoke. "We put up so much black smoke that they had to divert traffic from the salt lake international airport," Eagar said.

So it's back to smashing -- that doesn't effect air quality or air traffic.

The goal is to once again make the lake accessible.
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