In an effort to further improve management of invasive species in East Grand Rapids, the City has become a member of the West Michigan Conservation Network.
The network is a volunteer organization composed of environmental groups, governmental organizations, non-profit organizations and private citizens all working together to address invasive species on a local scale. The goal of this group is to provide outreach on invasive species and their impacts as well conducting invasive species management on both public and private land.
In EGR specifically, the group will be assisting City staff with an invasive species management plan, including determining which invasive species are in the community.
“This is a prime opportunity to increase our efforts to fight invasive species in East,” said Phil Weber, grounds maintenance supervisor. “We’ve already taken many steps to eradicate invasive species throughout our community, but this new collaboration will allow us to take our efforts to the next level.
“From our lakes and popular parks to our healthy urban canopy, East Grand Rapids is fortunate to have robust natural resources. We are committed to protecting – and growing – those resources.”
A major benefit of joining the network is access to a software app that our grounds maintenance staff can use to track the coordinates of invasive species. The coordinates are then mapped through a service at Michigan State University.
“Eventually, we’ll have a birds eye view of where invasive species are located,” Weber said. “We’ll then have the data necessary to complete a comprehensive management plan.”
Invasive species management is not new to the City. It has long been dedicated proactively finding non-native plants, particularly in Reeds and Fisk Lake. Each year, the City contracts with PLM Lake and Land Management to monitor and treat the lakes for milfoil and other non-native plants.
Last summer, European frog-bit was found during a routine inspection by PLM. The invasive species, which resembles a water lily with a single white flower sprouting from the middle, was most likely unknowingly introduced from someone dumping aquarium or water garden plants into the lake or a storm drain.
Initial treatments were proven successful, but as the buds for the invasive plant can remain in sediment for up to 24 months, PLM will continue to monitor the channel for the City for at least the next two years.
“We ask residents to be very careful in disposing plants and foliage that is not native to West Michigan,” Webber said. “Dumping water garden plants into the lake or tossing ornamental plants into the woods can have long-term adverse affects to the community.”
City staff has begun to track invasive species through the software and are actively working towards creating the management plan.
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