How you can help
Dealing with invasive species can feel like a daunting environmental challenge, and often folks ask us how much of a difference one person can make. Below we've provided some actionable steps anyone can take to help protect the environmental, economic and human health of Northern Michigan. Together, we can make a difference. If you'd like to assist us directly on a native planting, invasive species workday, etc. check out our volunteering and events page.
Buy Native Plants
Many invasive plants that are harmful to the environment or destructive were originally planted as landscaping and wildlife plants. Examples of this include knotweed, Japanese barberry, autumn olive, and non-native honeysuckle. These plants can quickly take over and displace native vegetation, harming wildlife habitats and forming dense, unmanageable stands. Knotweed, once unfortunately popular as a landscaping plant, is even capable of growing through concrete structures, such as building foundations and roads! Buying native mitigates the chance of any harmful plant species leaving your property and causing damage to the surrounding area and is actually very beneficial to local wildlife.
Go Beyond Beauty is a native plant species campaign based out of the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network in Traverse City to encourage plant nurseries, landscapers, and homeowners to buy and plant native species. The program currently serves the Grand Traverse area but is expected to expand statewide soon. Several of the native plant nurseries Go Beyond Beauty recommends are in our region. To learn more about this effort and find a list of local vendors that sell native plants in this program, visit the Go Beyond Beauty program website:
Keep Your Eyes on the Forest
Eyes on the Forest is a Michigan State University program that relies on citizen scientists (that's you!) to help protect local trees. Through the program, you can monitor a tree or trees in your area for newly invading organisms that threaten their vitality. In the Charlevoix, Antrim, Kalkaska, & Emmet region we're on the lookout for hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect that threatens our hemlock trees. Our region is close to areas where new detections of HWA have been found.
The best time to monitor for hemlock woolly adelgid is in the winter, but you can monitor for other forests pests through the Eyes on the Forest program any time of the year!
Play, Clean, Go
Invasive species are often spread accidentally by people traveling from place to place, often recreationally. For example, the infamous Emerald Ash Borer (pictured) was literally carried across Michigan by transported firewood, which led to a decline in Michigan's native ash tree population. According to the Play Clean Go invasive species Initiative, you should always do the following after outdoor recreational activities:
Remove plants, animals & mud from boots, gear, pets & vehicles.
Clean your gear before entering & leaving the recreation site.
Stay on designated roads & trails.
Use certified or local firewood & hay.
For more information and resources, visit Play, Clean, Go's official website: