The morning of our first Japanese Barberry Dumpster Day began with rain and an empty dumpster. However, at the closing of this event, the sun was shining and the 30-yard roll-off was teeming with barberry plants.
Japanese barberry is a highly invasive ornamental plant species that is still sold in nurseries and used by landscapers. Extremely hardy and lacking any predators, it quickly spreads into nearby natural areas -outcompeting native plants such as spring ephemerals and tree seedlings. Additionally, it is found to
harbor black-legged ticks which may carry Lyme Disease, making this plant both an ecological and public health threat.
Encouraging the removal of barberry from landscapes seemed to make perfect sense and thus, Dumpster Day was created. Landowners were encouraged to remove barberry plants, bring them to ISN, and in exchange, they received a $5.00 coupon for a non-invasive alternative - up to $50.00. Select participants from the Go Beyond Beauty program are accepting these coupons.
Community members from Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee counties brought barberry plants of all sizes. Some happily threw a single, young seedling over the side of the dumpster while others arrived hauling monstrous plants on trailers. By the end of the day, we had collected more than 100 plants - that's thousands of potential seeds that have been prevented from spreading into our critical natural areas!
Thank you to everyone who participated in this exciting event. Stay tuned as we hope to schedule at least one more Dumpster Day this summer.
ISN has completed a garlic mustard workbee in each of the four counties within our service area - Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, and Manistee. In total, we had 46 volunteers, treated 10 acres, and collected 80 bags of garlic mustard!
Employees and volunteers were rewarded with a complimentary lunch from ISN which contained garlic mustard. Minestrone soup and garlic mustard-pesto rolls, made by Oryana, was a great way to end the workbees, filling our bellies and warming us up.
If you want to join us for more workbees, we have our baby's breath events starting in June. Visit our website for additional details.
May is American Wetlands Month! Wetlands are an important part of the natural ecosystem and habitat for many native species.
Wetlands remove excess nutrients, toxins, and sediment from the water that flows through them. This is an important function that is key in keeping our local waters and environment in a healthy condition. Wetlands also reduce flooding by absorbing excess rain or river water.
To keep a well functioning wetland, it is also important to eradicate any invasive species from the area. Invasive species such as phragmites can quickly take over an area, reducing the function of the wetland and reducing the number of wildlife and plant life the wetland would otherwise support.
Like many invasive species, Japanese barberry was introduced to the United States as an ornamental. Its hardy nature and red berries made it an attractive addition to landscapes in the late nineteenth century. Unfortunately, those qualities also allow it to spread voraciously beyond garden boundaries and into nearby natural areas. Unappetizing to deer because of its thorny stems, barberry is left unchecked and quickly takes over -- pushing out native plant species and severely reducing the amount of wildlife that can live in an area. Additionally, research shows that a barberry's dense foliage creates a perfect, humid climate for blacklegged ticks that carry Lyme disease -- a fact that also creates a public health risk.
On Saturday, May 13 from 10:00am - 2:00pm, ISN is giving landowners the opportunity to trade-in Japanese barberry for a coupon good for a non-invasive alternative. Hosted at the Boardman River Nature Center, pre-registered individuals can bring in their removed barberry shrubs to be disposed of correctly. In exchange, they will be given a coupon to a local nursery that participates in ISN's Go Beyond Beauty program. This ensures that any replacement plant will be non-invasive and support an array of wildlife! This is a great opportunity to transition your landscape to one that does not threaten nearby natural areas.
Registration is required and can be done online. Registration will close on Thursday, May 4, after which ISN will contact you to confirm a drop-off time.
Go Beyond Beauty, a program of the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN), announces an expansion of who is eligible to participate. Go Beyond Beauty, which began in 2013, was previously only open to plant nurseries and landscapers, and nearly 20 businesses participated. As interest in gardens and planting has increased, Go Beyond Beauty will now be open to any interested person or organization in ISN’s service area: Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Manistee counties. Groups that manage a public planting, such as garden clubs and homeowner associations, are especially encouraged to join.
Go Beyond Beauty is free, voluntary and the only program of its kind in the Midwest that recognizes those who take a proactive stance by avoiding or removing invasive plant species, thus protecting our region’s natural assets.
“The Invasive Species Network established Go Beyond Beauty to create a change in the market by creating a demand for native plants,” said Emily Cook, outreach specialist with the ISN. “We view the program as a ‘carrot’ rather than a ‘stick’, meaning we want to incentivize and celebrate those who opt against high-priority invasive species.”
Participants, such as Garden Goods in Traverse City, are excited that others will be joining the effort.
"We are so pleased to have been involved with the Go Beyond Beauty program since its inception,” said Julie Sovereign, owner of Garden Goods. “Our customers appreciate our commitment to lessening the impact non-native species can have on the vast natural areas that surround us. What a wonderful opportunity this will be for individuals to participate directly with the program.”
Invasive species can negatively impact human health, our economy and our habitats. Plants such as baby’s breath can quickly spread and overtake the sand dunes that characterize Michigan’s coastline. By promoting non-invasive plants among garden clubs and centers, landscapers, school groups and any interested resident, Go Beyond Beauty hopes to make northwest Michigan an example of natural beauty, wildlife habitat and bountiful waters that inspire.
Benefits of participating include Go Beyond Beauty materials, such as bumper stickers and garden signs, as well as plentiful information about invasive ornamentals and native plants in gardens. Those interested in participating in Go Beyond Beauty are encouraged to attend the spring meeting on Thursday, April 6 from 2-4pm at the Boardman River Nature Center, 1450 Cass Road, Traverse City, MI 49685. To register for the meeting or learn more, contact Emily Cook (email@example.com or 231-941-0960 ext. 20).
National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) will be celebrated Monday, February 27 – Friday, March 3, 2017. For five days, individuals and organizations across the country will come together to promote invasive species awareness, shining a light on an environmental issue that costs billions of dollars each year to manage and prevent.
Locally, the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) will recognize the event through daily Facebook postings and emails that include educational tips, information on priority plants, a how-to on reporting invasive plants, ways to get involved and local success stories. Additionally, ISN is hosting a Facebook giveaway that will include t-shirts, stickers, invasive species identification books and boot brushes. Sign up on ISN’s Facebook page.
The ISN works to promote awareness of this issue not only during the upcoming awareness week, but all year long. Michigan is special. With unique dune systems, diverse forests, and fresh water, there is a lot to love – but there is also a lot to protect. Many invasive species thrive in this region and gradually alter the landscape, which negatively impacts wildlife, personal enjoyment and the economy.
Partnerships are key when it comes to educating the public on invasive species and in turn, successfully managing an area that has been affected. ISN is fortunate to thrive with the support of more than 40 partners who all play a pivotal role in the protection of Michigan’s natural resources. From small community groups to federal agencies, the diversity of these groups allows ISN to focus its efforts on projects spanning four counties – Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee.
Find more information on National Invasive Species Awareness Week and the ISN and its 40+ partners online.
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About the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network
The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) is a collaboration of over 40 highly motivated and respected organizations in the region. ISN’s mission is to protect, enhance, and promote northwest Michigan's natural communities through terrestrial invasive plant management and outreach. Its service area includes Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau, and Grand Traverse counties. More information can be found at HabitatMatters.org.
Despite a snow-covered ground and chilly temperatures, ISN staff are hard at work preparing for the upcoming field season - including planning workbees, coordinating potential treatments, and soon, hiring new survey technicians. There is no rest for the weary when it comes to combating invasive species.
ISN is also excited to announce the launch of its new website. The address remains unchanged but the look is entirely different. We hope this new set-up, combined with the ability to search the site, will allow for a better understanding of the work ISN does and provide more clear answers to your questions. As always, you can still contact us directly or report any invasive species to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN).
Read on below for event dates, highlights from the world of invasive species, and news about the expansion of Go Beyond Beauty. We look forward to working with you in 2017!
We say this every December, but what a busy year! With twice as much staff, ISN was able to accomplish so much in the world of invasive species management. Combined efforts in treatment and education helped us tackle some large plant infestations and reach more people than ever. Take a look at some of our impressive numbers below. Continue reading to see the complete annual report.
It is also bittersweet to announce that Outreach Assistant, Miriam Owsley, will be leaving ISN and joining another great organization in Traverse City. She has been an invaluable resource this year and we will miss her but congratulate her on this new opportunity! That being said, ISN will be hiring her replacement (hopefully in a full-time capacity) soon. Read on below for more information.
Thank you for a great year and don't forget to stay in touch this winter! As always, you can continue to report invasive species sightings to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.
Another year of protecting, enhancing, and promoting northwest Michigan's natural communities through terrestrial invasive plant management and outreach in Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee counties has come to a close, and ISN workers and volunteers have been quite the busy bees!
Volunteers pull garlic mustard at Clay Cliffs Natural Area (Leelanau County)
In addition to continued funding through the first Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program (MISGP) cycle, ISN was awarded additional financing through the EPA (Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, GLRI) and US Forest Service, as well as a second grant from MISGP. Together, these grants allowed ISN to focus on growing Go Beyond Beauty and target source populations of high-priority invasive plants in addition to continuing ISN's ongoing work.
The EPA GLRI grant is focused on outreach and education, specifically highlighting ISN's groundbreaking Go Beyond Beauty program to voluntarily remove invasive ornamental plants from trade. ISN is now able to offer more resources than ever before to assist businesses, and more changes are in the works; stay tuned! We're already seeing success: since October 2015, 2 new businesses have joined the program. Check out which businesses have made this awesome commitment on our website: www.HabitatMatters.org/Go-Beyond-Beauty/ A survey crew was also funded, allowing ISN to look for invasives in a massive amount of the four counties' area.
ISN crew treats Japanese knotweed on Veteran Oak Grove Drive (Manistee County)
The grants from MISGP and the US Forest Service combined to allow ISN to tackle some otherwise insurmountable obstacles: the Japanese knotweed on roadsides-especially Veterans Oak Grove Drive-in the City of Manistee, baby's breath near Elberta Beach, and the invasive Phragmites in Betsie Bay, Arcadia Marsh, and Manistee Lake. In 2016, ISN focused on obtaining permission to treat these species on public and private lands, with our first big push of treatments taking place in August, and continuing through the fall. In 2017, we'll be able to hit the ground running with treatments, and add restoration work (planting native plants in high-risk areas) to our to-do list.
In addition to these special projects, ISN's "normal" work continued. Outreach and education efforts in our four counties progressed, with numerous presentations, workbees, workshops, and media interviews. A "check-out" crew targeted ISN's Top 20 Species for treatment, working side-by-side with partners and private landowners.
Our grant success has allowed us to bring two new members on to the ISN team: Fields Ratliff, our Habitat Management Specialist, and Miriam Owsley, our Outreach Assistant. Fields is from Antrim County, where he now lives with his family of four, and has an extensive background in on-the-ground invasive species management; at work he's focused on treatments and field work. Miriam, hailing from Leelanau County, has experience in marketing, outreach, and public involvement and education in Freshwater Studies focusing on policy; she's been presenting to municipalities, assisting with Go Beyond Beauty, and assisting with permissions and behind-the-scenes work. We're excited to have Fields and Miriam, and all the expertise and enthusiasm they bring, on the ISN team.
If you have questions, want to get involved, or wish to schedule an engaging presentation to an interested group (school group, garden club, interest group, local government, or other) contact Katie Grzesiak at firstname.lastname@example.org or (231) 941-0960 x29 or visit HabitatMatters.org .
We've been hard at work beautifying Go Beyond Beauty!
New branding, new resources, and revamped
participant benefits are in the works!
Emily and Miriam are expanding the reach of Go Beyond Beauty by inviting retail and wholesale nurseries, landscapers, garden clubs, lake and neighborhood associations, municipalities, and concerned individuals who buy, sell, distribute or install any kind of landscaping or gardens to participate in this voluntary program.
What's in it for you
In exchange for their pledge to not sell high-threat invasive plants, participants receive a wide variety of benefits, including a beautiful participant sign to display at your business with pride, staff training and educational resources for your customers and clients, and free online advertising. We want to reward you for joining the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network in protecting Michigan's natural beauty!
You can find more information about Go Beyond Beauty on our website, or send a shout to Emily Cook at email@example.com
Introducing the ISN Tool Library!
ISN is happy to announce our improved Tool Library program. If you are interested in using a weed wrench to remove woody invasive shrubs from your property, or collecting data using a GPS unit, please fill out this simple form to reserve the tools you need. This program is open to the public, and the tools are available for 1 week periods with a $50 refundable deposit.
Fall is a great time to tackle the invasive woody shrubs on your property, and a weed wrench is an easy alternative to herbicide treatment. Read this how-to article to make sure a weed wrench is right for your invasive species removal project, and then make your reservation using the link above.
Speaking of removing woody shrubs, ISN hosted four workbees in September, including two workshops, to educate landowners on invasive species identification and management. It was a great opportunity, and folks enjoyed getting experience removing unwanted woody plants, including autumn olive, barberry, honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and buckthorn. Participants watched an herbicide demonstration and got their hands dirty while yanking out autumn olive plants with weed wrenches. Thank you to all who took part, including Suz McLaughlin who catered such delicious food for after our hard work.
As always, please contact ISN if you have any questions regarding identification, treatment, or upcoming events. You can also report plant sightings to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) at any time.
Jeanine Rubert is co-owner of Pine Hill, a two-part nursery and landscaping business located in Traverse City and Torch Lake. A current participant of Go Beyond Beauty, Pine Hill is a fantastic resource for all of your gardening needs. Visit their website to learn more and read on below to hear a bit more from Jeanine!
What is the mission of Pine Hill – do you have a focus that will be a special draw to customers?
The main mission here at Pine Hill is to help people be successful gardeners, no matter what their experience level. Our tag line says it all, though: Growing a better world, one garden at a time! That is our primary focus, because how can we grow a better world if we poison it in the process? We do this by promoting sustainability in the garden. Among the tenants of sustainability are limiting lawn size, irrigate efficiently, prune conservatively and use native and appropriate non-native plants.
Why did you join Go Beyond Beauty?
We joined the Go Beyond Beauty campaign because it fits in perfectly with
our own beliefs.
On a personal (or business) level, why do you think people should transition to native/non-invasive gardens?
There has been a learning curve even for us, so we understand that our customers are learning too. I have always been a proponent of gardening where you are, so the use of natives is a natural extension of that belief. As we learn more about the plight of pollinators and loss of habitat for wildlife, it only makes sense that as gardeners, we do our best to help by making choices that not only provide beauty for us, but food and habitat for them! It’s easy to get in the rut of planting only what is familiar and widely used and available, so it has been fun and rewarding to help our customers think in a new and creative way when helping them choose plants for their landscape.
What is your favorite native plant and why?
It’s very hard to choose just one plant as my favorite, so I’ll mention a few. Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly weed, is one of my favorite perennials. I love the bright orange flowers and its tough nature. Serviceberry, Amelanchier, is one of my favorite native trees because of its 4 seasons of interest, flowers in spring, followed by berries in the summer, wonderful fall color and smooth bark for winter interest. I also love Ilex verticillata for those brilliant red berries in the winter! I am a big fan of Bearberry, Prairie dropseed, Little bluestem, Joe-Pye-Weed and Wintergreen. I could go on, but you get the picture!
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