Garlic Mustard and Spotted Knapweed are two of the most toxic invasive plants threatening the dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan. Both can be eliminated over time if people are willing to get their hands dirty. As Garlic Mustard is now in bloom, there are “Mustard Pulls” underway all along the coast. If you live in or near the dunes or are planning a visit, please consider helping rid the sand of these long and gnarly rooted plants! Spotted Knapweed will show it's pretty but poisonous purple face midsummer.
According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, early detection and rapid response are the best ways to manage the spread of the many non-native, rapidly reproducing species threatening the environmental integrity of our dunes.
We can help!
The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN), led by researchers of the Michigan State University Department of Entomology, is building a database of invasive plant sightings. They have created a FREE smartphone app to help people identity invasive species and report the location of these plants. For those of us who do not yet own a smartphone, information can be submitted online at http://www.misin.msu.edu. The app may be downloaded from that site as well as the App Store and Google play.
According to Shaun Howard of the Nature Conservancy, comprehensive, accurate data is key to the work of the Michigan Dune Alliance, a coalition of eleven western Michigan organizations focused on developing and implementing a strategic approach to detecting, controlling, and eliminating invasive plants.
“Rather than a ready-shoot-aim approach to the plants threatening the world’s largest freshwater dune system, the Dune Alliance developed a threat assessment in 2001,” Shaun recently explained to a group of us at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. “We don’t have the resources to do everything, so our efforts are focused on surveying, treating, and monitoring the biggest threats in western Michigan’s most beautiful places.”
To date, the alliance has removed baby’s-breath from over 900 acres in areas along Sleeping Bear Dunes and Michigan’s Wilderness State Park. They are also focused on eliminating and controlling the spread of phragmites, Japanese knotweed, blue lyme grass (similar in appearance to beach grass), kudzu (found in the southwestern corner of the state), and spotted knapweed.
While I have resisted purchasing a smartphone, the MISIN app gives me pause. In the meantime, you will see me wandering the dunes pulling garlic mustard and spotted knapweed and noting the location of the Japanese knotweed, purple loosestrife, and phragmites advancing rapidly along the streets of my community.
Feel free to join me!
The Michigan Dune Alliance
Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy
Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
Michigan Invasive Species Coalition
Midwest Invasive Species Information Network
National Park Service at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway
Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
US Forest Service at Manistee National Forest
River City Wild Ones
Monday, May 18, 6:30 p.m.
Seidman Park in Ada
Annual Garden Mustard Fling, Spring Wildflower Walk & Native Plant Exchange
For more information, visit http://rivercitywildones.org
Gillette Nature Association
Gillette Sand Dune Visitor Center
Saturday, May 9th, 9:00 a.m.
Annual native plant sale, Birds of the Dunes Hike, Nature Art for Children, and Wildflower Walks
For more information, visit http://www.gillettenature.org
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