CRWC to offer presentations about local invasive species

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published September 1, 2017

 Flowering rush, a type of flowering grass, quickly outcompetes native species.

Flowering rush, a type of flowering grass, quickly outcompetes native species.

Photo provided by Eric Diesing, of the Clinton River Watershed Council

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Clinton River Watershed Council will offer two free “What’s in Your Backyard?” programs this month centered around identifying invasive species and protecting water quality and native vegetation.

The first presentation will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at Washington Township Hall. The second presentation will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Shelby Township Senior Center. Registration is required.

Invasive species negatively impact Michigan’s natural ecosystem in a variety of ways, including stifling native species and changing the quality of waterways. The presentations will teach participants how to identify and prevent the spread of harmful species, as well as inform participants about current efforts to battle local invaders.

Eric Diesing, an environmental scientist with the CRWC, will touch on a variety of invasive species in the Clinton River watershed and southeast Michigan, including phragmites, European frogbit, Japanese knotweed, flowering rush, and black and pale swallow-wort.

“The reason why we’re focusing on those five is because the state as a whole is on the watch for those,” Diesing said.

Phragmites, also known as the common reed, outcompetes native cattails to stifle native habitats and dry up wetlands, he said.

Swallow-wort is known for affecting agricultural areas and destroying the crops the farmers work to cultivate, Diesing said, while flowering rush — a type of flowering grass — quickly outcompetes native species, and European frogbit — miniature lily pads — produces dense mats in aquatic habitats to cut off sunlight from native vegetation.

Besides those five invasive species, Diesing said he will also discuss purple loosestrife, zebra mussels and red swamp crayfish.

“Red swamp crayfish are a newly introduced invasive species within the past couple months that has been found in the area,” he said. “(I’ll cover) how to ID that crayfish and some of the problems that come with it.”

Abby Lane, program coordinator with the CRWC, said the presentations will also include information about the RiverSafe LakeSafe program, which recognizes residents who help protect local waterways by making proactive improvements to their homes.

“It helps educate people on the small things they can do at home to help protect water quality — things like planting native plants and managing water runoff by using rain barrels,” Lane said.

She added that the CRWC has a survey that residents can fill out, and if they are doing all of the listed steps, they can become certified by the CRWC and receive a garden plaque to display on their property.

“It shows neighbors, and validates their efforts, working to protect water quality,” Lane said.

To register, call the Clinton River Watershed Council at (248) 601-0606 or email registration@crwc.org. Washington Township Hall is located at 67900 Van Dyke Ave., north of 31 Mile Road. The Shelby Township Senior Center is located at 51670 Van Dyke Ave., north of 23 Mile Road.

To learn more about how to prevent invasive species and improve water quality, visit www.crwc.org or look up the local Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area at www.michiganinvasives.org. Shelby Township is a member of the Lake St. Clair CISMA.

You can also download the smartphone app called MISIN (Midwest Invasive Species Information Network) to send coordinates of invasive species to the state so that it can map problem areas. For more information about the app, visit www.misin.msu.edu.