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State of Michigan distributes millions of dollars to fight damaging invasive species

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Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff prepare to deploy a trap to determine abundance of invasive red swamp crayfish in a drainage pond.

The State of Michigan is giving $3.6 million in grants to efforts to stop the spread of damaging plant, animal, and insect invasive species.

The grants are being spent in areas across the state to attempt to stop the spread of aquatic pests such as red swamp crayfish and rock snot, plants such as mile-a-minute weed, and insects that -among other things- damage trees.

You can find the complete list of grants and organizations here.

The grantees put up more than $532 thousand in matching funds, bringing the total investment to more than $4.1 million.

That might sound like a lot of money, but it’s not nearly enough to get ahead of the invasive species onslaught. Part of the cost of global commerce is damage at home from foreign organisms.

Joanne Foreman is Invasive Species Communications Coordinator with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She says after recently detecting an insect called the spotted lanternfly in Oakland County, traps are being set in Oakland and Macomb County Metroparks.

Didymo (rock snot) is caught on the hook of this fly fishing lure.

“Because these are flying bugs and they also can be transported through egg masses and live insects on vehicles and things like that, the survey in Oakland and Macomb Counties, we feel, is a very important one.”

The insect can kill a hundred different trees and plants, including grapevines, according to the Michigan Invasive Species Program.

Another tree killing pest is the hemlock woolly adeljid which has been spreading on the western side of the lower peninsula.

“This is largely along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and unfortunately, this year we found that it has gotten a little further north into Benzie County,” Foreman explained.

One of the most important efforts is making people aware that they can spread different invasive species.

Transporting firewood across regions can introduce pests to a new part of the state.

Failing to clean boats, kayaks, and fishing gear when leaving a lake or stream has spread invasive mussels, fish, and aquatic plants. The “Clean. Drain. Dry.” campaign encourages people to make sure they’ve done everything possible to prevent taking an invasive species from one lake into the next one they visit.

Gardeners and nurseries also have to be better informed about what plants are invasive or might carry invasive pests with them.

These grants aren’t the total of the invasive species fight. Federal agencies and grants are also funding efforts. And non-profit organizations across the state are also doing what they can to slow down the spread of the many invasive species.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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