MASON, Mich. — Invasive species are a big deal in Michigan. Now the state has awarded $3.6 million for invasive species projects and more than $96,000 of those funds will help fight invasive species in mid-Michigan.
The funds are through the Michigan invasive species grant program and will be used by the mid-Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.
"CISMA is a partnership of local, state, and federal agencies along with partners that help promote and help do management of invasive species," said Samantha Strandmark, Mid-Michigan CISMA Coordinator.
Strandmark says they cover Ingham, Ionia, Eaton, and Clinton counties when it comes to invasive species.
"Invasive species are as wildlife. So it could be plants, fish, animals, bugs. So there's a wider array of invasive species," Strandmark says.
They will hire a strike team to target Black swallow-wort, Japanese knotweed, which are terrestrial plants, and invasive Phragmites which are aquatic plants.
"All three of those species that mid-Michigan CISMA was targeting are harmful to the environment. Phragmites, in particular, can clog up wetlands and make it harder for water to pass through making it harder for fish to be able to live there. Japanese knotweed is definitely harmful to the environment," said Katie Grzesiak terrestrial invasive species coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Those can be a threat to our buildings. That's because this is a plant with extremely strong roots.
"Black swallow-wort can be a big issue because it is this vine. And so it can really cover an area it really likes, kind of like partially shady, partially sunny areas. And it will just again, crowd out all of the native plants that are there," Grzesiak said. "Black swallow-worts is a bummer because it looks a lot like milkweed. And so the monarchs that need milkweed, in order to feed their caterpillars can actually get tripling their eggs on it. And then when those eggs hatch, the caterpillars starve. So it's super sad."
Grzesiak says that in Michigan a lot of times they end up focusing on plants when it comes to invasive species.
"We do think about our invasive animals like the silver in bighead carp and some of the invasive crayfish, but a lot of times plants are a really big problem," Grzesiak said. "About 50 percent of invasive plant species came from people's gardens; sometimes our food gardens. But sometimes it's just plants that we think are really beautiful. So it's really important to do research."
Grzesiak says there are also some invasive species that they are trying to keep out of Michigan.
"Like the spotted lanternfly, which is a small insect that is very big in Pennsylvania, and it's creeping close, trying to make sure that we're keeping it out of Michigan," said Grzesiak. "Hemlock woolly adelgid is a small insect on the west side of Michigan that we've been working really hard on, as well as Japanese still grass, which is kind of in the Detroit area, and mile a minute weed, which is in southwest Michigan."
Grzesiak says keeping those out of mid-Michigan and the rest of the state is a priority.
If you would like to learn more about invasive species and which ones lurk in your neighborhood or would like to help report them, click here.
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