Grants to help combat invasive species

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published February 4, 2020

File photo by Julie Snyder

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MACOMB COUNTY — Three recent state grants were awarded as part of ongoing efforts to combat invasive species.

The grants total $256,200 and will go toward two full-time invasive species coordinators: one in Macomb and St. Clair counties, and another in Oakland County.

They were provided through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, encouraging the development of Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas, or CISMA, which work collaboratively with partners to increase awareness about such species and advise for best practices.

Six Rivers Land Conservancy is the fiduciary for Lake St. Clair CISMA — in Macomb and St. Clair counties — and for Oakland County CISMA.

Lake St. Clair CISMA coordinator McKenzi Waliczek said funds cannot be utilized until May 1 of this year, with a one-year cycle concluding April 31, 2021.

“This funding is specific to the CISMA, so it’s keeping CISMA’s operation functional through the next calendar year,” Waliczek said.

That includes educational programming, workshops, surveying and managing right-of-way contracts for treatments.

“There are areas we do treatments,” she said. “It’s not to say we’re not doing any management; it’s just to say we didn’t get funding specific to one project.”

These newly announced grants accompany past grants and funding mechanisms, including the Great Lake Restoration Initiative, that have impacted invasive species like phragmites in water bodies.

Last fall, phragmites treatment occurred in Clinton, Harrison, Shelby, Ray and Washington townships. Waliczek said that treatment effects aren’t really known until the next growing season due to dormancy, which would be about May or June of this year.

They will start the second phase of those particular treatments this spring and then wait for those specific results next year.

Educational aspects related to the new grant monies allow for education, in terms of reaching out to individuals via social media; events, like mobile boat washes, that raise awareness of diseases in water bodies, as well as preventing the dragging of fish species and other potentially invasive plant life; presentations for varying target audiences, from elementary schools to high schools; municipality training in the form of identifying and reporting invasive species; and mapping events when members of the public are invited to public parks and learn how to report species to CISMA.

“There’s a variety (of educational mechanisms), from indoor presentations to the outdoor hands-on activities,” she said.

Over the past two years, it’s estimated that work conducted by Lake St. Clair CISMA has led to the treatment of over 1,176 acres of invasive species; over 83,000 acres surveyed; more than 20 free public events; and the securing of contracts, along with the implementation, of phragmites control.

In total, the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program awarded $3.6 million in this year’s grant cycle, funding over 30 projects.

Waliczek said the outreach activities are impactful because members of the public can be educated in a face-to-face manner. Whether it’s at a CISMA event or even a farmer’s market, she said people maybe are not privy to invasive dangers affecting general quality of life.

Some invasive species are not as well-known as others, like Asian carp for example.

“I think we’re doing well, but I do think invasive species need more attention in the public eye,” she said.

More grant applications will likely be submitted by year’s end, continuing the cycle of monies available in the region.

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