PAW PAW, Mich. — Invasive, non-native species have recently become a far more recognizable issue in Michigan’s yards, homes, and ecosystems. These fast growing, densely dispersed plants and animals cause damage to native species, out crowding and out competing desirable species, leaving land managers with unstable, unhealthy lands. Managing invasive species can be a daunting and expensive task, especially for private land owners since Japanese knotweed and Phragmites rarely pay attention to property lines.
Because of these issues, the Department of Natural Resources has awarded the Van Buren Conservation District funding to manage the prevention and removal of invasive species under the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program. With this funding, the Conservation District has been overseeing the creation and management of the Southwest by Southwest Cooperative Invasive Species Management unit. The SW X SW CISMA will be covering Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties, assisting land owners and citizens with identifying, locating, and treating invasives locally. With its formation the new SW X SW CISMA joins an already established network of CISMAs throughout the state in leading management of invasive species on both a local and landscape scale.
Under the grant, the program will focus on nine specific species that currently are considered to pose a significant threat to Southwest Michigan’s environmental health. The species currently on the CISMA’s “watch list” include: Invasive Phragmites, Japanese knotweed, giant knotweed, pale and black swallow-wort, Chinese yam, flowering rush, European frog-bit, and Asian longhorn beetle. Though the CISMA can answer questions and concerns about other species, such as garlic mustard and autumn olive, grant funds, and CISMA resources, will focus on these most immediate threats.
The SW x SW Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area is a partnership of federal, state, and local government agencies, individuals, and various interested groups that manage (or have a stake in managing) invasive species in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties. Partners include the Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Conservation Districts, Chikaming Open Lands, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, The Stewardship Network, and many others.
After a September symposium on Japanese Knotweed in St. Joe that drew nearly 120 community members, the CISMA understands that there’s not only a large problem with invasive species in the area, but a huge amount of public interest in protecting our natural resources from invaders. More events, including another Japanese Knotweed program in the spring of 2017, are planned as the CISMA continues to grow and answer the needs of the public.
The SW X SW CISMA is currently attempting to locate and map invasive species in the three counties, and is dependent on public interest and help to locate patches in remote and private areas. If you think you may have an invasive species on your property, or if you have located any on public property, please call the conservation district for help with identification and management at: (269) 657-4030 x 132. The CISMA is available to help with identification of species, as well as suggesting the best known way to remove these nasty plants.
— Van Buren Conservation District
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