Invasive Species Management

BCD is happy to announce that Barry County has received support from the MDNR to form a Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) along with Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties. BCD will house an Invasive Outreach Educator for the county, as well as coordinate with the CISMA invasive strike team to survey, prioritize, and treat the invasive species outbreaks of greatest concern. This education is free of charge and participation in the CISMA management planning is open to the public. Please contact Sarah Nelson at 269.908.4135 or sarah.nelson@macd.org to get involved or to host a free workshop!

Alien invaders in your backyard! Are invasive species really such a big deal?

By now you may have heard of invasive species in one regard or another. Perhaps the emerald ash borer left skeletons of once-majestic trees scattered about your property. Maybe you have not-so-fond memories of late spring days spent painstakingly pulling garlic mustard from your land. You may have once thought that purple loosestrife was a beautiful addition to your shoreline until it became all that was left. Or perhaps you have never had close contact with an invasive species and you wonder what the fuss is all about.

It is important to understand the difference between non-native plants and invasive plants. The term “non-native” is relative- it refers to any living organism that did not naturally originate from an area in which it is currently found. So what is non-native in Barry County is not necessarily non-native in all of Michigan, let alone the rest of the United States or other countries. Non-native species are not always harmful and many are beneficial, for example the beloved ring-necked pheasant, apple trees, and dandelions.

The term “invasive species” refers specifically to non-native species that have harmful impacts, be it to economy, the environment, or human health. Thus, if it is native, it is not an invasive species. Nor can it be considered an invasive species if it is benign or beneficial. Therein lies the catch and the real reason that invasive species are a problem for everyone- they cause a significant amount of damage.
The most cost-effective and easiest way to deal with invasive species is to prevent their establishment altogether, which is why many conservationists heavily promote planting only native species.

Unfortunately, often times the invasive capacity of a non-native species is unpredictable until it is too late. One such case of this is autumn olive, which was once celebrated and planted for wildlife habitat and as a food source but was found to be highly invasive in southwest Michigan. Once an invasive species is already introduced to an area, the best way to deal with it is early detection of the species and rapid response (treatment). A great way to coordinate these efforts is through a Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA), which is a community-based group made up of private landowners, non-governmental organizations, natural resource management groups, governmental agencies, and others who agree to work to collectively combat invasive species on a large scale.

Barry County recently received support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to form a (CISMA) along with Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties. The Barry Conservation District will house an Invasive Outreach Educator for the county, as well as coordinate with the CISMA invasive strike team to survey, prioritize, and treat the invasive species outbreaks of greatest concern.

If you would like to join the CISMA, have the educator give a workshop to your group, or learn more, please contact the Barry Conservation District at 269.908.4135.