Partnerships to Stop the Spread of Invasive Species

Resource Professionals Meet to Coordinate Land Management Plans

By: Vicki Sawicki
North Country CISMA

Mecosta County Parks have partnered with NCCISMA to bring awareness of the value of landscaping with native plants and avoiding invasive garden plants. Photo credit: NCCISMA

On December 4th partners of the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA), met at the Wexford County Library in Cadillac to share with each other what each of them have achieved in invasive species management and native habitat restoration efforts in the region over the past year, what plans they have for 2020, and to brainstorm ways that they can collaborate to more effectively address invasive species in the region in the future. The public was invited as well; if you are interested in learning about what is being done in the area, or have particular concerns that you would like North Country CISMA to focus on in the future, this was a great opportunity to mingle with resource professionals on the front line in the fight against invasives here. The meeting took place from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m.

North Country CISMA is one of 21 CISMAs that cover the state of Michigan. While each of the CISMAs have at least one paid staff person, a CISMA consists of not just those persons employed by the CISMA. Rather, CISMAs are partnerships of local organizations, governmental entities, businesses, and concerned citizens, with the common goal of addressing invasive species in a region. The North Country CISMA covers the counties of Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Osceola, and Wexford. Current active partners of the North Country CISMA include the five conservation districts within the six-county area, several county road commissions, lake associations and boards, several watershed associations, sportsmen’s and recreational clubs, the Huron-Manistee National Forest, and many more. Any organization or individuals with an interest in stopping the spread of invasive species in the region is encouraged to participate with North Country CISMA.

Alan Cooper, Manager of the Wexford County Road Commission, encourages participation in the CISMA. He says “The Road Commission has a great relationship with the local CISMA. They have provided the expertise and additional resources we need to control the Knotweed, Phragmites and Wild Parsnip that is growing along our county roads. As this is a statewide problem, the County Road Association recently held an Invasive Species workshop with CISMAs, DNR, EGLE and other state agencies in an effort to promote working together as we try to control the spread of these aggressive plants.”

For those who have been to North Country CISMA’s annual partner meetings in the past, you noticed that the structure of this year’s meeting was a bit different. The format for the meeting was a round-table discussion. There were not any formal presentations, but North Country CISMA staff did share what their current grant funded projects are, what has been accomplished to date, and what is coming next year, as well as sharing what may be on the horizon with new grants they have applied to. There was also a round-robin, giving partners of North Country CISMA a chance to share what they have been working on, what they have planned for the future, and where there may be opportunities for collaborations. The goal of this meeting was to encourage connections between the CISMA partners, and promote collaborative efforts in addressing the region’s invasive species.

For those who were unable to attend the meeting on December 4th, but are still interested in partnering with North Country CISMA, or learning about opportunities for collaboration with North Country CISMA partners, a resource guidebook, titled Invasive Species Management and Outreach Resource Directory, is available online at NorthCountryInvasives.org. Hard copies of this guidebook are also available for public usage at the local conservation district offices. This guidebook provides an overview of North Country CISMA partner resources and areas of specialization. It is useful for reaching out to experts for advice on invasive species control and restoration, as well as finding knowledgeable speakers for events, and outreach materials, covering a variety of conservation topics.

Vicki Sawicki is the North Country CISMA Program Coordinator. For more information on programs available to address invasive species, contact Vicki by phone at 231-429-5072, by email at vicki.sawicki@nullmacd.org, or stop by NCCISMA’s office at the Wexford County Courthouse.