ALERT! Black swallow-wort has been discovered for the first time in ISN's four-county service area, specifically in downtown Kingsley. This is a critical early detection species and we need your help to find other populations so treatment can begin as soon as possible. Swallow-wort is a member of the milkweed family and acts like a "sink" for monarch butterflies. Even when native milkweed species are present, female monarchs will often lay their eggs on the invasive variety. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are unable to feed on the plant and die. Familiarize yourself with what swallow-wort looks like here: Think you may have found some? Please contact ISN at (231)941-0960.
ISN is looking for your help with spearheading management efforts for swallow-wort.
If interested in VOLUNTEERING please contact ISN Communications Specialist Rebecca Koteskey at
Spring is the time for ISN's garlic mustard workbees, with one held in each county of ISN's service area. We appreciate everyone who volunteered. We couldn't do it without you - Thank you!
Garlic mustard is an invasive plant species that crowds out native wildflowers, like trillium, and prevents the growth of forest tree seedlings. Its roots release a chemical into the soil which prevents seeds of other plants from sprouting nearby. Garlic mustard can easily be hand-pulled, then bagged before it goes to seed. Never compost the plant, as seeds can survive composting and be spread.
Disposing of bagged garlic mustard has been tricky in the past. Even though it is legal to send to the dump, it can be difficult to communicate with the trash company. ISN has received funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the US Forest Service to alleviate some of this struggle by working with partners to place designated dumpsters in each county of ISN's service area. When dropping off your bagged garlic mustard, there are signs on the dumpsters requesting you answer a short survey about the garlic mustard and where it came from to assist with the grant reporting. This survey is accessible through a QR code app on a smartphone or you may call the phone number provided.
Benzie: Lake Township
Frankfort & Lake Township Hall parking lot
Grand Traverse: NW MI Invasive Species Network
Grand Traverse Conservation District/Boardman River Nature Center
Leelanau: Leelanau Conservancy
Clay Cliffs Natural Area parking lot
Manistee: Manistee Conservation District
Manistee Conservation District parking lot
When funding permits, ISN employs a seasonal crew leader and crew members to follow through with invasive species treatments. ISN's crew leader started in April to get the ball rolling for the season, and the rest of the crew not far behind, starting the first week of May.
We are happy to introduce 2018's crew leader, Audrey, and crew members Ann, Hannah (not pictured), and Josh. They will be focusing on garlic mustard during May and the first part of June, followed by Japanese knotweed treatments. The crew is also on lend to various ISN partner organizations throughout the summer to help with other high-priority projects, such as baby's breath removal.
The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) is happy to announce that there will be dumpsters available in Benzie, Leelanau, and Manistee Counties for community members to use for the disposal of invasive garlic mustard.
Community members are encouraged to remove garlic mustard where possible and dispose of them at any of these sites. When dropping off your bagged garlic mustard, there will be signs on the dumpsters requesting you answer a short survey about the garlic mustard and where it came from. This survey is accessible through a QR code app on a smartphone or you may call the phone number provided. This information is invaluable to the work ISN and other organizations do involving invasive species.
ISN was awarded a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant (administered by the US Forest Service), which provides $1,000 to go toward the dumpsters as a cost-share. Benzie Lake Township, Leelanau Conservancy, the City of Frankfort, Manistee Conservation District, and the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network have been generous enough to host the dumpsters and cover any additional costs and organization. ISN truly appreciates their efforts-Thank you!
The dumpsters will be in place during May and June, although the time-frame may vary slightly with individual hosts. See more details below.
Benzie Lake Township: Township Hall | Benzie County | May, June
City of Frankfort: Location TBD | Benzie County | May, June
NW MI Invasive Species Network: Grand Traverse Conservation District/Boardman River Nature Center parking lot | May, June
Leelanau Conservancy: Clay Cliffs parking lot | Leelanau County | May 18th - June 8th
Manistee Conservation District: Manistee Conservation District parking lot | Manistee County | May, June
These dumpsters are for invasive species disposal ONLY. Garlic mustard MUST be bagged and is NOT to be pulled once it has gone to seed. Transporting the plant once it's in seed GREATLY increases the risk of spread.
ISN Outreach Specialist, Emily Cook, recently had the chance to collaborate with Nature Change again - Nature Change is a multimedia platform encouraging discussion on conservation efforts in northwest Michigan. The recently published photo essay titled, "Why Native Plants are the Better Choice for a Changing World" focuses on the reasons why one should be proactive in their landscaping decisions as spring approaches. The main points are outlined below. However, if you are interested in reading the entire article, please visit the Nature Change websiteand consider signing-up for their updates!
Native Plants are Better Adapted to Most Growing Conditions
After some initial effort to establish, you can expect less-frequent watering, drought tolerance, and less upkeep.
Attract the Good Insects and Avoid the Bad
Many pollinators have evolved along side the plant species native to this region resulting in a garden full of bumblebees and butterflies. On the flip-side, some invasive species have been linked to pests. Japanese barberry is the perfect example. Areas dense with Japanese barberry have been found to have up to 10 times as many black-legged ticks as areas without barberry.
Native Plants Preserve our Natural Resource Heritage
As gardeners and landscapers, we can respond to changing climate conditions and help preserve the habitats and natural resources of our region by choosing and planting native species selectively and consistently.
Get Beautiful and Diverse Color During the Entire Growing Season
If your goal is to have a variety of color, plant height, and bloom shape, there are dozens of options in the native plant category.
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