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!
This fall, ISN is pleased to offer two workshops in addition to our annual invasive shrub removal days. Held in Grand Traverse and Benzie counties, these workshops will focus on the best techniques for identifying invasive species commonly found in this region. Participants will also learn about management options available – with a focus on the typical landowner. ISN staff will present on both subjects and be available to answer any questions you may have. Following the one-hour workshop, we will venture outside to a neighboring natural area. Here, we will get an opportunity to practice our new ID skills while searching for and removing invasive shrubs.
In Manistee and Leelanau Counties, workbees will resemble those in years past. Please meet at the designated site and from there, after a brief orientation, we will head out on the trail and start tackling invasive species!
For all workbees, please plan to bring work gloves and hand tools that may be useful in removing shrubs. Loppers and hand-saws are recommended. If you prefer lighter work, there may also be the opportunity to remove berries from mature plants (to prevent their spread). Catered refreshments will be provided for all to enjoy after our hard work! Please RSVP to ISN Outreach Specialist, Emily Cook at (231)941-0960 x20 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign up by visiting this site. We look forward to seeing you!
Manistee County Woody Invasives Workbee
When: Friday, September 9 — 10:00am-noon
Where: Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary
About: Join us to remove woody invasives from the beautiful Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary in Manistee County. We will be targeting species like Japanese barberry, autumn olive, and honeysuckle.
Grand Traverse County Woody Invasives Workshop and Bee
When: Saturday, September 10 — 9:00am-11:30am
Where: Boardman River Nature Center
About: Both the workshop and shrub removal will take place at the Boardman River Nature Center.
Leelanau County Woody Invasives Workbee
When: Friday, September 23 — 10:00am-noon
Where: Clay Cliffs Natural Area, Leland
About: Join ISN and the Leelanau Conservancy to remove woody invasives from the beautiful Clay Cliffs Natural Area in Leelanau County. We will be targeting species like buckthorn, autumn olive, and honeysuckle.
Benzie County Woody Invasives Workshop and Bee
When: Saturday, September 24 — 9:00am-11:30
Where: Grow Benzie and Railroad Point Natural Area
About: Meet at Grow Benzie for the workshop portion. After, we will carpool across the road to Railroad Point Natural Area for the ID hike and shrub removal.
ISN is proud to report the work completed during 2015! Treatment efforts were handled by a four person crew that worked in all four counties (Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee) and with multiple partners. The crew successfully surveyed more than 900 acres and treated over 500 acres for “Top 20” invasive species. Additionally, ISN hosted several workbees including four garlic mustard events and two for woody invasives. Beautiful natural areas throughout our service area served as our work sites and in all, more that 180 volunteer hours were contributed towards the removal of high priority species. We are aiming for even more next year!
Additionally, education continues to be a priority for ISN. Outreach on the topic of invasive plant species and management approaches is crucial in this collaborative effort towards control! In the last 12 months, we directly contacted over 1,400 members of the public through outreach efforts (including more than 30 presentations to local governments, school groups, garden clubs, etc.).
Finally, Go Beyond Beauty continues to be a successful and innovative program in northwest Michigan and we are happy to report that there are now 8 nurseries and 13 landscapers participating! This is a fantastic step towards preventing the spread of high priority invasives as many of them are still sold as ornamentals. Stay tuned in the upcoming months as we transition into the new year and begin work towards our 2016 goals!
For the first time, ISN hosted several fall workbees to target woody invasives. Focusing our efforts in Leelanau and Manistee Counties, we teamed up with our partners the Leelanau Conservancy and Michigan Audubon, primarily removing buckthorn, autumn olive, and Japanese barberry.
Clay Cliffs Natural Area served as a beautiful backdrop in Leelanau County. ISN and volunteers successfully treated 7 acres of young buckthorn and autumn olive. The following week we traveled to Manistee and the Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary, where unfortunately, the weather was not as cooperative.
Making room for natives! New England Aster brightens the landscape at Clay Cliffs. Photo: Emily Cook
Still, we had a fun afternoon and 10 acres were surveyed for Japanese barberry. Many small plants were removed and larger sites were identified for future removal.
In all, 14 volunteers put in more than 40 hours of time removing invasive species! The work getting done created a foundation for future projects and opened target areas up to the reestablishment of native species.
We will be back in the field this spring for our annual garlic mustard workbees – stay tuned for those dates!
The ISN field crew has been spending the summer working on several projects for various partners. They’ve assisted in garlic mustard removal in all four counties, surveyed for invasives in Leelanau, treated invasive thistles in Grand Traverse, and removed Oriental bittersweet in Manistee. Last week, they spent time in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with The Nature Conservancy, digging up or spraying baby’s breath and other dune invaders.
The crew spent hours removing the tough plants from 4 acres at the Sleeping Bear Dunes plateau, then moved to Empire Bluffs for another 2 acres of digging. They traveled south to Arcadia Dunes to remove 20 acres of baby’s breath and invasive bladder campion that could be seeded from or seeding into those more northern populations. Herbicide came into play at Zetterburg Preserve, where the crew and others treated 11 acres of baby’s breath. Finally, 25 acres of invasive spotted knapweed was controlled using herbicide in a fallow field near some fragile dunes. Herbicide is a “necessary evil” in invasive plant control efforts; some areas are just too thickly covered by invasive plants for mechanical removal to make sense (and some plants aren’t controlled well by it). In fact, pulling invasive plants like spotted knapweed in heavily-infested areas stirs up the “seed bank” in the soil, bringing seeds that have been resting to the surface–in some cases sprouting several plants in place of the one you just pulled!
A total of 62 acres protected in just 4 days! And controlling knapweed in those 25 acres of fallow field, before they can move into our valued dune systems and negatively impact their unique inhabitants, is just as important. What’s the old adage? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Keep up the great work, crew and partners!
ISN had some big goals!
When partners met this midsummer, garlic mustard, invasive phragmites, Japanese and giant knotweed, and Oriental bittersweet were identified as our highest-priority plants for the region. We then surveyed over 10,290 acres and 170 miles of shorelines–including shores of rivers, inland lakes, and Lake Michigan–to look for top-priority invasives. Though specifics varied by county, removing these plants from high quality natural areas and areas that would increase spread by the invaders (like roadsides) were made the main target for treatment.
Using grant money to protect high-quality habitats
Partners decided which areas that had been surveyed or had reported populations should be treated, many of which were public lands and State Game Areas. We applied for Aquatic Nuisance Control permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, gathered appropriate permissions, and coordinated treatments. This year, we were able to treat approximately 3,160 acres of high-priority invasive plants in the region to safeguard these crucial native habitats.
We’re also seeing some amazing native plant regrowth in areas that are now nearly phragmites-free! Many partners, like Portage Lake Watershed Forever, have seen similar results.
The Japanese knotweed project is newer and the plant is even harder to control than phragmites, often taking three or four years to control. With continuing to work with the DNR for best treatment options, we are hoping to see significant dents in treated knotweed populations come spring.
Garlic mustard is possibly the easiest to see great preliminary results with, though true control requires more time due to a long-lasting seed bank. This year, volunteers at the Tippy Dam pull in Manistee County reported that populations of this target plant were much lower than in previous years from pulling alone. Herbicide treatments this fall should help stem the tide of seedlings, making next spring’s work bees that much more effective! Similar results from pulling were seen at the Great Garlic Mustard Hunt in Grand Traverse County, and area where garlic mustard is still an early-stage invader.
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