Invasive Species Program report highlights successes

Published 9:49 am Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Combating invasive species is complex and expensive, but these efforts are exceptionally important in protecting Michigan’s woods, water and outdoor recreation opportunities. Michigan’s Invasive Species Program Annual Report for 2015, just released, provides an overview of state- and grant-funded projects and programs that are working to prevent invasive species through education and outreach and to detect, monitor and control invasive populations within the state.

“A collaborative, statewide approach that enlists the help of environmental groups, state agencies, local governments and private landowners was key to success this first year and will remain just as important to future efforts,” said Joanne Foreman, invasive species communications coordinator with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Beginning in October 2015, Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature allocated $5 million in annual funding to fight invasive species. A minimum of $3.6 million of this funding is devoted to grant projects carried out by units of government, nonprofit organizations and universities. Last year, a charter agreement within Michigan’s Quality of Life agencies — the departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Environmental Quality, and Natural Resources — formalized Michigan’s Invasive Species Program to provide leadership and support for local, state and regional invasive species efforts.


Early successes

In the first year of state funding, the Michigan Invasive Species Program has exceeded outcomes for outreach, detection and control while fostering community-driven invasive species management units across the state. Those efforts include:

Locally led management. Grant funds established or supported the development of 12 Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs), providing service for 64 of Michigan’s 83 counties. CISMAs are groups of nonprofit and government agencies, businesses and volunteers tackling invasive species in their local areas. CISMAs can offer a range of services including information on preventing, identifying, reporting and managing invasive species. Some also provide management assistance to private landowners. The grant program is prioritizing CISMA establishment for the remaining counties in the 2015 and 2016 funding cycles.

Public outreach. In the last year, through more than 500 outreach events and 2,000 programs at Michigan state parks and visitor centers, nearly 1.5 million people were encouraged to prevent, report and manage invasive species. Local programs included volunteer events to encourage boaters and anglers to clean, drain and dry their boating and fishing equipment to prevent the spread of invasive plants, mussels and snails.

Early-detection responses. Promotion of an invasive species reporting tool on the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network website coupled with field work by local monitoring crews generated over 58,000 reports of invasive species. Of these, 355 were reports of Watch List species – invasive species not yet established in Michigan – triggering response actions by state or local management teams.

Control and management. Across the state, management teams treated emerging and established species, including invasive Phragmites, Japanese knotweed, Eurasian watermilfoil and oak wilt, on more than 8,300 acres.  Treatments ranged from hand removal of water lettuce in Wayne County waterways to large-scale herbicide treatments of invasive Phragmites in the Saginaw Bay area.


New invaders detected

Increased public awareness contributed to the positive identification of two species prohibited in Michigan — yellow floating heart, found in an isolated pond in Dearborn (Wayne County), and red swamp crayfish, spotted being used as bait by anglers on Lake Macatawa (Ottawa County).

The yellow floating heart was removed and the location will be monitored annually to assure no regrowth occurs. An extensive trapping survey of Lake Macatawa and nearby fishing locations on the Grand River turned up no evidence of red swamp crayfish.

New Zealand mudsnails were detected for the first time in Michigan waters in 2015 when they were found in the Pere Marquette River near Baldwin (Lake County). Likewise, didymo, a nuisance alga, was identified in the St. Mary’s River near Sault Ste. Marie Efforts continue to determine the extent of both of these infestations and to encourage river users to clean and inspect boats and gear to prevent the spread of these and other aquatic invaders.

To learn more about programs to prevent, protect and control invasives, check out Michigan’s Invasive Species Program Annual Report for 2015 by visiting