The Marion Lake Story: Defeating the Mighty Phragmite

Year Released
Film Length(s)
28 mins
Remote video URL


Shot over 7 years, this is the first film to follow an eco restoration project from inception to completion. From an unsightly, unhealthy lake to a bio diverse habitat for birds and wildlife on the Atlantic Flyway.

Featured review

An uplifting example of how concerned citizens can make a big difference when they tackle something together.
✮✮✮ stars
Video Librarian. Recommended.


Shot over a seven year period, The Marion Lake Story tells the compelling story of how a community on the east end of Long Island, N.Y. came together to clear their lake of the highly invasive phragmite reed. They educated themselves, raised money, hiredwetlands biologist Steve Marino to plan the eradication, and eventually got out to “weed the communal garden.” Years later, a bio-diverse habitat for native birds, plants and rare turtles is returning; and the phragmite reed is in retreat. Human intervention here is not to shape nature to one’s aesthetic taste, but rather to restore nature so that it can take its own course. Lori's triumphant story demonstrates the power of civic engagement and the age-old motto that "everybody can do something." The result... an inspirational grassroots model for environmental restoration in action that leaves audience members wanting to get out and partake in ecological restoration- wherever they live.


Highly recommended to audiences with an interest, or with potential interest, in habitat restoration or removal of invasive plants. The Marion Lake Story does an excellent job of showing the hard work and cooperation needed to fight a successful battle and is a testimony to the aesthetic and personal rewards that completing a restoration can have.
Cliff Glaviano formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH
This story is a superb example of the way a group of committed people working together can change the status quo. Appropriate for use in a high school or college environmental science class, especially a course with a service-learning component. A practical resource for extracurricular organizations focused on biology, ecology, and/or community service. Students might find themselves motivated to take an interest in restoring ecosystems and could get started by participating in the WAVES project featured on the film's website.
Richard Lord, Jr.
An inspiring example of what can be done to correct a seemingly daunting problem when solutions appear elusive.
Library Journal
Brent Marchant
This moving story was an inspiration to our students who are committed to making a difference in the world through their service learning activities.
Wendy L. Doromal
Service Learning Teacher, Timber Creek High School
The film captures the whole process so well—the fundraising, the back-breaking, time-consuming work, the skepticism and then the relief. The result of everyone's efforts was not simply better views of the water; the return of life and biodiversity to the lake was the real indicator that they had done something magnificent.
Diana Van Buren
(Former) President North Fork Audubon Society
Your video clearly demonstrated that we must take an active role in the mission of ecological restoration, not only as an individual, but as a community. I know the audience, including myself, walked away from your thought provoking Roundtable presentation with a new perspective on the impact, both negative and positive, that we can have on the Earth.
Lindsey Sobolosky
Honors Round Table, Robert Morris University
Told with charm and directness; one comes to love the people in it quickly.
Frederick Turner
Professor of Arts and Humanities, University of Texas at Dallas

Director Commentary

When I began to follow this story I had no idea if it would be successful. As I watched the dedication of Steve Marino and Lori Luscher year after year I just felt they would succeed. I have been working in my own few acres to remove japanese knotweed, garlic mustard, mile a minute, 'wild roses' and other invasives that creep in. Sometimes amazing wild flowers, long smothered emerge, other times the invasives come back.

Sprinkling butterfly weed seeds has already drawn the endangered butterflies back to my yard!!!

Not everyone at Marion Lake has joined the effort- and never will everyone get on board and play their part in restoration work. But a critical mass rules the day. Walking there now, or paddling out into the pond is absolutely magical.

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