REED CITY — Members of the public are invited to a community partners meeting from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Reed City Depot in Reed City to learn about and discuss invasive species affecting this area.

“Community partners” include any organization, business or resident from the five-county region that has an interest or concerns involving invasive species.

Invasive species have already had an impact on this area, such as the added expense to lakefront property owners that need to contribute to the cost of chemical control of Eurasian water-milfoil on their lakes, and the pesky abundance of autumn olive shrubs in open fields. Some of the incoming invaders threaten to be even more destructive, and less controllable, than these already widespread invasive species.

New Zealand Mud Snail may disrupt entire food-web systems in high-quality trout streams.

The aquatic plant European frog-bit could form dense mats, up to 2 feet thick, on the surface of lakes, and there is no known effective means of control for this plant once it becomes fully established on a lake.

Common reed grass (phragmites) can lead to hazardous driving when it blocks line-of-site along roadways and can pose an increased risk of fire when its dried stalks are left adjacent to structures.

Japanese knotweed has such an aggressive growth habit that it can rip through cement and asphalt, destroying roads and building foundations.

Considering the many detrimental impacts that invasive species can have on the economy, human health and the environment, we should all want to learn more about the problem, what species to be on the lookout for in our area, and how you can get involved.

The Jan. 21 meeting includes a great line-up of topics and speakers, including:

  • Josh Shields, Ph.D., Rick Lucas, and John Webb, outreach foresters for the Forestry Assistance Program (FAP), will provide an introduction to the Eyes on The Forest Program — a statewide program to guard Michigan’s forests against potentially devastating forest invaders, including Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock wooly adelgid and thousand cankers disease of walnut.
  • Sharcy Wieczorek, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil conservationist, will be explaining NRCS invasive species control cost-share programs available to property owners.
  • Carolyn Henne, U.S. Forest Service botanist, will be providing an in-depth discussion of the top invasive plant species to be on the lookout for within the five counties of the NCCISMA, including the problems they pose and keys to identification.

Also included will be a hands-on workshop to familiarize participants with the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) webpage and free smartphone app. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop computer and a smartphone if they have them. The hope is to get many people registered and ready to start noticing and reporting invasive species in the community.

To round the meeting out, free lunch will be provided, and a chance to share your personal or organizational accomplishments and concerns regarding invasive species in this area.

For more information on the NCCISMA, visit its webpage at NorthCountryInvasives.org.

The North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA), housed in the Wexford Conservation District Office in Cadillac, covers five counties, including Lake, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola and Wexford, with the objective of inventorying and strategizing control of high priority invasive species that are here, and preventing the introduction of new invasive species into these five counties.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP by Jan. 18, to vicki.sawicki@macd.org or by phone at (231) 429-5072.