Funding from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program will aid in addressing invasive species in both Macomb and St. Clair counties.

Funding from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program will aid in addressing invasive species in both Macomb and St. Clair counties.

Photo by Julie Snyder

Grant money to aid in battle against invasive species

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published January 18, 2019


MACOMB COUNTY — The Six Rivers Land Conservancy — a nonprofit organization and fiduciary of the Lake St. Clair Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, or CISMA, in Macomb and St. Clair counties — was recently awarded two grants totaling $120,000 from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program for ongoing efforts to address invasive species.

Each $60,000 grant will support newly hired Lake St. Clair CISMA Coordinator McKenzi Bergmoser and the work being done in each county. The Lake St. Clair CISMA was founded in 2015.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the efforts to control invasive species in the Lake St. Clair region,” said Bergmoser, who was hired in November 2018. “By coordinating our efforts, municipalities and nonprofits can share best management practices and gain an economy of scale.”

The Lake St Clair watershed is approximately 2,100 square miles.

In 2018, the Lake St. Clair CISMA and its partners, which include local and state governments, nonprofits and property owners, successfully managed over 1,000 acres of invasive species. Phragmites alone accounted for over 500 of those acres. The remaining acres were comprisd of garlic mustard, dame’s rocket, parrot feather watermilfoil, curly leaf pondweed and invasive shrubs.

Harrison Township Supervisor Ken Verkest said the township has been a member of the Lake St. Clair CISMA since 2016. At that time, the township was part of an original grant and received more than $18,000 to treat phragmites (australis, which is common locally).

“We have treated several areas and are part of the application for the next round of grants,” Verkest said. “We have focused on drains, but have also treated along I-94 as well as along roads. The Macomb County Department of Roads has also been a participant.”

Verkest said the primary method of treatment is to spray at least two times in the fall, but prior to a frost. He said the herbicide is absorbed through the foliage and kills the phragmites at the roots. However, phragmites have large underground rhizomes that make them hard to kill.

During the winter months when the ground is frozen, the biomass, or dried plant material, is mowed or rolled, Verkest said.

“In some cases it is left in place, but sometimes it is removed,” he explained. “If there is a large area, such as in the Lake St. Clair Metropark marshes, a controlled burn is used to destroy the biomass. The native seedbed remains and will revegetate after the burn.”

The Lake St. Clair CISMA plans to continue phragmites treatments along road rights of way in Macomb County in 2019. Pending additional funding, the Lake St. Clair CISMA hopes to expand its control efforts to county drains using a non-chemical approach. Grant funding would be achieved through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Cooperative Weed Management Area.

In future years, the Lake St. Clair CISMA would like to include additional priority invasive species in its management efforts. The group’s main focus currently has been on phragmites, due to the copious amounts found throughout Macomb and St. Clair counties. Other priority invasive species include black swallow-wort, Japanese knotweed, European frog-bit and flowering rush. Lake St. Clair CISMA members also hope to educate the general public about their role in managing these species.

“Invasive species degrade natural habitat,” said Chris Bunch, executive director of the Oakland County-based Six Rivers Land Conservancy, in a prepared statement. “Through its support of the CISMAs, Six Rivers, Macomb County — along with a couple dozen other communities — are improving the natural value of lands in southeastern Michigan. Thanks to this funding, CISMA coordinators will continue to expand the reach of the program and inform the public about invasive species.”