An invasive plant and an invasive critter are being targeted for eradication around Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.

The plant called the “Mile-A-Minute Weed” has been found in the Battle Creek area. It can choke off native plants in seemingly the blink of an eye since it grows so fast and can take over territory real quick. And the big red crayfish around the Sunset Lake area south of Kalamazoo may look pretty, but they can displace native aquatic species due to their size and aggressiveness. Both are the focus of targeted eradication funding grants from the State Department of Natural Resources.  They’re among 29 projects statewide designed to help combat the dangers of invasive species which can literally alter the landscape of the state.

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Some invasive plants are even today, sold at some lawn and garden centers by owners or managers who aren't aware of the problems they create. Michigan has an active statewide invasive species early detection and response network. But it’s not big enough to cover everything yet. That’s why state grant money is going to help beef it up. Part of that will be through bolstering the regional networks that make it all work.

And then targeting specific plants and critters for localized treatment or eradication efforts will help with many of the hotspots. $3.6 million is going out in the new grant funding against invasives.

Photo: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

The Mile-A-Minute weed was discovered last fall at the Albion College Whitehouse Nature Center. It’s the first time the invasive plant has been confirmed in the state. Due to its fast-growing nature, it poses a particular risk to Michigan’s Christmas tree industry. Efforts in the area around the nature center will focus on locating and removing all of the plants.  Since seeds from the plants may have been dispersed around the area, a watch system is being developed to stay on the lookout for any new sprouts this spring.

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