The DNR is proposing to classify the non-native subspecies of Phragmites (common reed) (Phragmites australis subspecies australis) as a Prohibited Invasive Species under DNR rules (Minnesota Rules, 6216.0250). The Minnesota invasive species laws webpage lists currently classified species. Prohibited Invasive Species are illegal to possess, import, purchase, sell, propagate, transport or introduce without a permit from the DNR (Minnesota Statutes, chapter 84D).
See the Detailed information on Prohibited Invasive Species Rulemaking webpage for an overview of all the species being proposed, links to detailed classification summary documents and direct links to statutory information including definitions, prohibited activities and possible penalties. When new rules go in to effect, the DNR’s priority is education, to help people understand the new rules to prevent the introduction and spread of the species.
Q: Why is this needed? What good will it do?
The DNR non-native subspecies of Phragmites webpage lists the impacts of this subspecies including forming large, dense monocultures in wetlands that reduce habitat quality for native plant and animal species. The proposed rule would not apply to Minnesota’s native subspecies of Phragmites australis. The impacts of the non-native subspecies of Phragmites have led the DNR to take a statewide leadership role with this species. The DNR classification screening indicates that this is an appropriate species to regulate under the DNR’s invasive species rules. The DNR’s Invasive Species Program is coordinating a statewide control effort and prioritizing sites for management with the aim of reversing spread.
Q: Does this rule affect the native subspecies of Phragmites? Can people tell the two subspecies apart?
A: This rule does not apply to the native subspecies of Phragmites (Phragmites australis subspecies americanus). The University of Minnesota’s Phragmites webpage has detailed information on Phragmites including an identification guide to help distinguish the native from non-native subspecies. People can connect with the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Invasive Species Specialists to help with confirming identification.
Q: Isn’t non-native Phragmites already regulated by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as a noxious weed? Why should it also be regulated by the DNR?
A: As an non-native wetland plant with negative impacts to Minnesota, regulating non-native Phragmites as a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Prohibited Invasive Species and a Minnesota Department of Agriculture Prohibited Noxious Weed will provide the strongest protection to the state and support management efforts across agencies and across the state.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture regulates non-native Phragmites as a Prohibited Noxious Weed on the Control List. Under the noxious weed law, efforts must be made to prevent seed maturation and dispersal of plants into new areas. Additionally, no transportation, propagation or sale of these plants is allowed.
The DNR has responsibility to protect Minnesota’s environment, economy and natural resources from potential harm from invasive species. The DNR conducted a classification screening for non-native Phragmites and found that it fits the criteria to be regulated by the DNR. By adding non-native Phragmites to the DNR’s prohibited invasive species list, the DNR makes it clear that non-native Phragmites is considered an invasive species in Minnesota, that the DNR’s invasive species program would be the program that would issue permits for its control below the ordinary high water mark, and that it is appropriate for the DNR to take a leadership role in planning statewide management actions and applying for funding to assist in this work.
Similarly to purple loosestrife, which is regulated by both the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s noxious weed law and the DNR’s invasive species law, a dual listing for non-native Phragmites will strengthen response efforts. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s noxious weed law mandates control efforts to prevent seed maturation and dispersal of plants into new areas, which the DNR’s regulations cannot do. The DNR can provide aquatic invasive species expertise, statewide leadership, coordination and management permitting below the ordinary high water mark. A coordinated effort between agencies and other partners is key to comprehensively address this species.
Q: I have non-native Phragmites on my property, how would this rule affect me?
A: The DNR rule change is unlikely to change actions for landowners. Landowners are already directed to manage non-native Phragmites through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s regulation of non-native Phragmites as a Prohibited Noxious Weed on the Control List. Under the Noxious Weed Law, efforts must be made to prevent seed maturation and dispersal of plants into new areas. Additionally, no transportation, propagation or sale of these plants is allowed.
Below are additional actions and information for landowners:
- Report non-native Phragmites to the DNR. The DNR can help confirm identification. The DNR is organizing a statewide response to non-native Phragmites on Minnesota lands and waters and may have funding or technical support available to you.
- If you want to manage the non-native subspecies of Phragmites below the ordinary high water mark, you will need an Invasive Aquatic Plant Management Permit (IAPM). These are issued by Invasive Species Specialists in the Ecological and Water Resources division.
- The DNR does not intend to require people who unintentionally have the non-native subspecies of Phragmites on their property to be permitted by the DNR.
- Follow noxious weed law recommendations for disposal of plant material.
Q: Would this rule change affect my ability to cut wetland plants for use as waterfowl blinds?
A: You cannot transport any regulated noxious weed or invasive plant listed by the Departments of Agriculture or Natural Resources without proper permits. Permits to transport would not be issued for this type of application. It is important that waterfowl hunters understand how to correctly identify the vegetation that they are planning to use for blind camouflage and any federal or state regulations that pertain to those plants.
The transportation of non-native Phragmites has been illegal since the Minnesota Department of Agriculture listed non-native Phragmites as a Restricted Noxious Weed in 2013. In 2021, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture reclassified non-native Phragmites as a Prohibited Noxious Weed on the Control List and transportation is still prohibited. The DNR listing would also prohibit transportation and would not change the Minnesota Department of Agriculture regulations. Waterfowl hunters should not transport non-native Phragmites.
Nurseries, plant suppliers
Q: Can I sell Phragmites if this rule change goes into effect?
A: It would continue to be legal to sell the native subspecies of Phragmites australis (Phragmites australis subspecies americanus). It has been illegal to sell the non-native subspecies of Phragmites since 2013, when it was listed as a restricted noxious weed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (in 2021, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture reclassified it as prohibited noxious weed on the control list).
Wastewater treatment facilities that use non-native Phragmites
Q: Will wastewater treatment facilities need to change their practices if this rule change goes into effect?
A: Wastewater treatment facilities are regulated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources would work with facilities that use non-native Phragmites for biosolids dewatering, to determine and support adaptation of practices to reduce the chances of non-native Phragmites spreading from the site to surrounding areas. Representatives from the DNR, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the University of Minnesota have been meeting with wastewater treatment facility operators to discuss issues, share information and develop practices that meet their needs.
The goal is to transition wastewater facilities to using species other than non-native Phragmites. The DNR recognizes that research is still underway to quantify the efficacy of other species for use in wastewater treatment facilities. The DNR and Minnesota Department of Agriculture will coordinate any permitting necessary for the facilities to continue to function.
Researchers and Educators
Q: Can I possess non-native Phragmites for research or educational purposes if this rule change goes into effect?
A: If you are collecting, transporting or keeping samples of non-native Phragmites, you would need to apply for a permit to possess prohibited invasive species from the DNR. The DNR will assess the risks of your proposed project and may issue a permit to manage those risks. The DNR may also suggest alternatives for teaching people how to identify non-native Phragmites. Currently, Minnesota Department of Agriculture permits are required to possess, transport and research listed noxious weeds, such as non-native Phragmites. If the DNR proposed rule is approved, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and DNR will work together to review and approve permits.