Public Engagement Equals Invasion Prevention

North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area Staff.

This year the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA) will wrap up a public engagement project funded by the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program (MISGP), focused on raising awareness of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the upper Muskegon River watershed.

This project has had a significant impact because of a number of noteworthy accomplishments:

  • Production of a river trail guide for the upper Muskegon River
  • Two-day AIS identification and control workshop, attended by 75 people
  • Boat launch events at various lakes throughout the watershed
  • Educational videos on AIS issues including European frogbit identification and control, as well as options for treating invasive Phragmites

None of NCCISMA’s videos is longer than three minutes, but each is packed with useful tips, and is also fun to watch. Check them out at

NCCISMA actors Bigfoot and Swamp Thing during filming of the EFB video. Photo Credit: NCCISMA

In addition, the combined staff from NCCISMA and MRWA successfully promoted the Exotic Aquatic Plant Watch (EAPW) program. Working together, they were able to attain Increased enrollment in the EAPW, a major goal of this project.

The EAPW is part of the larger Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) citizen science lake monitoring program. Through the EAPW program Michigan State University (MSU) Extension staff teach participants how to collect aquatic plant samples, and how to identify five invasive aquatic plant species, two of which, hydrilla and European frogbit, are on the State of Michigan watch list.

If either of these species were to invade a lake, undetected, they would likely never be eradicated, resulting in a lifetime maintenance program for the lakeshore owners. In fact, many lakes are already dealing with similar situations because of Eurasian watermilfoil.

In order to promote the EAPW program, NCCISMA’s public engagement project included a large half-day recruitment event at Rose Lake, and a Q&A webinar (recording still available on NCCISMA’s YouTube channel). Our staff also made 70 direct phone calls to lakeshore owners, and 30 presentations to lake associations, and local governmental units. These included lake boards, township boards of trustees, and county commissioners. Unfortunately, we failed to reach the project goal of 50 lakes enrolled in the EAPW program, but we have collected data to explore the reasons for that. If interested in the EAPW, individuals can still enroll at

NCCISMA is excited for another year of AIS outreach in 2023. We have already scheduled boat launch outreach events for two lakes in the upper Muskegon Watershed: Big Lake in Osceola County and Lake Missaukee in Missaukee County. We conduct these events in partnership with the relevant lake association or other interested parties. For instance, Missaukee Conservation District and the Missaukee Lakes Association have signed on as partners for the Lake Missaukee event while the Big Lake Association has agreed to support the event on their lake.

In addition to providing a manned booth and outreach materials, NCCISMA will do the back work to acquire any needed permits and line up a visit from the MSU mobile boat wash, if desired. Anyone interested in a partnership with NCCISMA to host a boat launch outreach event should contact Ryan Caro at 231-846-3089 or

MSU mobile boat wash at a boat launch event at Lake Missaukee on 7-8-22. Photo Credit: NCCISMA

Besides these in-person outreach events, NCCISMA is working on ways to reach children with the message of AIS awareness. Toward this goal, NCCISMA will be producing an AIS themed coloring and activity book, which will be shared through in-classroom outreach, and handed out to children at all of our AIS outreach events.

To learn more about invasive species and NCCISMA, visit, and follow us on Facebook @NorthCountryInvasives.