By Vicki Sawicki
Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMA’s) are your best local resources for advice as well as hands on support in your effort to control invasive species. There are actually two that cover most of the counties in the Muskegon River Watershed:
- North Country CISMA, (NCCISMA) which covers Missaukee, Wexford, Osceola, Mecosta, Lake and Mason counties
- West Michigan CISMA, (WMCISMA) which includes Montcalm, Newaygo, Kent, Muskegon, Allegan, Ottawa, and Oceana counties
NCCISMA began operation in the spring of 2015, thanks to funding from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, administered jointly through the Departments of Natural Resources (MDNR), Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).
Since its formation, NCCISMA has participated in a variety of outreach activities in an effort to increase public knowledge of several critical issues:
- Understanding what makes an organism invasive,
- Learning to recognize invasive species on the “watch for” list in your area,
- Knowing how to avoid spreading invasive species, and
- Knowing what to do when you find certain high priority invasive species.
We provide more than advice however. NCCISMA now has a community tool crib in each of its partnering conservation district offices. These include Mason-Lake, Missaukee, Osceola-Lake, Mecosta, and Wexford Conservation Districts.
Equipment rentals are available for the treatment of any invasive plant species. Private property owners may wish to address a variety of invasive species on their own property. This may include Phragmites and knotweed, but may also involve species not considered high-priority for NCCISMA.
Examples include autumn/Russian olive, spotted knapweed, and Japanese barberry. Property owners may want to improve wildlife or pollinator habitat. Controlling invasives can also improve the aesthetic value of their land, reduce the risk of Lyme disease carried by ticks and improve bird forage.
Equipment in the tool cribs include most of what is needed to treat invasive species with herbicides, such as sprayers and marking dye, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) including face shields, boot covers, and gloves. Included with any herbiciding tool rental is the use of our emergency spill response kit.
In addition to the herbiciding equipment, we also have Uprooters. These are leverage tools that allow for mechanical removal of shrubs and small trees with trunks up to three inches in diameter by hand pulling.
The Conservation Districts have treatment instruction sheets for Phragmites and Japanese knotweed, and will soon have instruction sheets for other species you may be working to control. Additionally, you can contact NCCISMA at 231-429-5072 for advice on the best management techniques for specific species. Stop in to your local conservation district office to rent equipment.
About the Author
Vicki Sawicki is the Program Coordinator for the North County Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA). She has been involved with the study of invasive species since 1998, when she concluded her graduate studies with a thesis on purple loosestrife at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Vicki spent five years as a Biological Technician in Botany with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, administering invasive species removal and habitat restoration projects on the Huron-Manistee National Forest, before coming to work for NCCISMA. In her current role as NCCISMA Program Coordinator, Vicki works to facilitate the collaboration of numerous partners, including private citizens, governmental entities, non-profit organizations, and private industry, in the fight against invasive species and related restoration projects. NCCISMA addresses invasive species management in the counties of Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Osceola, and Wexford.