The following is an ongoing project on the shore of the Otis Reservoir in Massachusetts. The Phragmite control project is being conducted by Peter Fessenden with the backing of Gail, the chairman of the local conservation commission (now retired). Phragmites are long stemmed emerging weeds that are known as reeds. They grow usually on the shore of lakes where water is about 0 to 2 feet deep. The following is the email correspondence between Peter, Gail, and Warren, inventor of the Lake Bottom Blanket.

Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008
Subject: Re: Lake Bottom Blanket Deployment

Hi Warren,

I have just received the go ahead from Gail to put the first blanket down with weights before the water comes up.

I just picked up (20) 4″x 8″x 16″ cement blocks and will attempt to deploy the first blanket tomorrow. We will put 1 block in between each rebar at the edge of the blanket. After loading these blocks into my truck, I am confident that the blanket won’t go anywhere.

As we now have approval to do the project, we will wait until the water comes up to deploy the other 2 blankets.

The reason that I am so insistent that the first blanket go down now is that in most years the Phragmites would be already re-grown by the time the water gets to the high-water mark and the Commissioners would not allow re-cutting them at that time.

The other reason is that if successful we can halt the advancing Phragmites at the edge of my beach. Thanks for your concern. I will let you know how we do and send pictures.


Subject: First blanket deployment 04/12/08

Hi Gail,

The first blanket went down with no problem, even in a light breeze. You can see the lake bottom is relatively flat in this area making it ideal for dry bottom application.

The ice is out and the dam is closed, and at the rate that the water is coming in from Big Pond I’ll bet that the lake will be full in 2 wks. or less. Only 3 1/2′ to go.

When the lake is full, we will deploy the remaining two blankets.

Thanks again for your help and let’s hope we can learn a lot about the control of Phragmites from these experiments.

Pete Fessenden

Phragmites (Reeds) Project 2008 Otis Reservoir | Lake Bottom Blanket Otis 1

Photo of Lake Bottom Blanket installed white side up after the lake was lowered. Pete used additional weights to help keep the Blanket from blowing away.

Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 6:11 PM
Subject: Eliminating Phragmites in Otis Reservoir

Dear Gail,

Thanks for stopping by to view the deployment of the second blanket yesterday.

As I mentioned, I am only going to deploy two blankets this year as I am concerned about the management of the second blanket when the water is drawn down this fall.

I believe the only way to deploy these blankets is to put them down prior to the water coming up in the spring as I did the first one.

The second blanket was put down on top of Phragmites that had already grown 2ft.We will see what happens this year.

Attached are pictures before and after deployment of the second blanket.

Thanks for your help.

Pete Fessenden

Phragmites (Reeds) Project 2008 Otis Reservoir | Lake Bottom Blanket Otis 2

This photo shows the area before the second blanket is installed. Shown is the Blanket installed in April with Phragmites growing to its left. On shore the 2nd Blanket that is going over the reeds that are next to the existing blanket.

Lake Bottom Blanket Install

Shown are the two blankets installed next to each other (A) is the blanket that was installed in April with the white side up and (B) is a Blanket that was installed with the black side up at the end of May.

Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Subject: Elimination of Phragmites Ref.RDA 57- Drive B, East Otis, MA (Otis Reservoir)

Dear Gail,

Attached are pictures of this year’s Phragmites cutting which was done on Nov. 29. I didn’t know who to forward them to so I am sending them to you in hopes that you can forward them to the right people. I called the Conservation Commission’s number and left a message telling them of my intention to do the fall cutting last weekend.

I didn’t see any new growth upon removal of the blankets that were down all summer. We cut 20 more feet and intend to deploy two 10′ X 60′ blankets on this area next spring. Of course, the whole ball game is whether any new growth develops in the area covered this year.

Thanks, Peter Fessenden

Phragmites (Reeds) Project 2008 Otis Reservoir | Lake Bottom Blanket Otis 4

Shown is the area where Blankets were placed early in the spring and removed in the fall, also shows the 20-foot area of cut reeds for blanket re-installation, Spring 2009

Pete’s Project will continue for at least another year before we are certain of the results. Thank you, Pete and Gail, for your willingness to try and your efforts which could establish a road map for the control of this weed.


Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009
Subject: Elimination of Phragmites Ref.RDA 57- Drive B, East Otis, MA ( Otis Reservoir)

Dear Gail,

I visited Otis yesterday and found the ice out and the water coming up!

Soooo, since the weather was perfect and my neighbor available, we deployed two blankets on the newly cut area (see attached pictures).

The good news, so far, is while I saw 3″ spikes of new growth already starting to grow in the newly cut area, I saw none in the area that was covered last year!

Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Subject: Re: order for small blanket

Hi Warren,

With the exception of a few shoots that came up near the edge of the blankets deployed last year near the rock jetty, the Phragmites are history!

Thanks, Pete

PS Gail Palmer is writing an article for the Otis Gazette about the dangers of using chemicals and is putting in it alternate ways of dealing with weeds such as Lake Bottom Blankets. I’ll send you a copy.