Endangered & Invasive Species Management Iniative
Invasive species come in all forms and have the potential to alter the very things that we love about northern Michigan. Once again the residents of Beaver Island are leading the charge to raise the public’s awareness of these threats!!!!
Hats off to the Beaver Island Association’s Endangered & Invasive Species Management Initiative! The purpose of the initiative is to identify & inventory endangered species and invasive plant species on Beaver Island and devise environmentally appropriate & effective measures to protect the former and control the latter.
The Island’s natural resources have been damaged as a result of weather, logging, recreation & nature. It is important to identify and continuously monitor & assess management actions to protect endangered native plants and prevent, identify and eliminate specific invasive plant species. Beaver Island property owners want to continue to obtain the economic benefits of eco-tourism, maintain viable populations of all species including game species for hunting, and promote tourism with responsible recreation and use of island habitat.
Initially the program will focus on aquatic & terrestrial invasive plants on Beaver Island; although all the islands in the archipelago may be included at a later date. The program will not consider plants that are indigenous, non-endangered or non-harmful native invasive species.
Goal 1: Educate. Property owners & visitors will be trained to identify invasive species & learn ways to eradicate them. A web site will be created to provide one-stop shopping information on invasive plant species. Educational events and products will be provided in multiple formats.
Goal 2: Inventory. Develop & maintain lists of endangered & high threat invasive species. Establish a communication process for reporting random sightings with a ready-made form to use.
Goal 3: Recruit. Recruit & train an EDRR (Early Detection Rapid Response) team to help treat infestations. Provide volunteers with opportunities to assist in detection, treatment and monitoring of invasive plants.
Goal 4: Rehabilitate. Eradicate invasive species (dig up, spray, contain); Protect endangered species (signage, fencing, walk ways); Rehabilitate & replant sites where appropriate.
Based on specific Island conditions, the TOP FIVE Beaver Island invasives identified as priority species are: Phragmites, Autumn Olive, Scots Pine, Marsh Thistle (European Swamp Thistle), and Spotted Knapweed. These are followed closely by the NEXT FIVE invasives deserving attention: Purple Loosestrife, Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed, Garlic Mustard, and Black Locust.
Working in Partnership – Much More Effective. The Beaver Island Association has been working closely with the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources (MDNR) over the years and is currently working with them on the development of an invasivePhragmites 5-year plan.
Another partner providing valuable assistance & expertise is the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI). They are uniquely qualified to provide information for rare elements of diversity and natural communities. MNFI will work with Islanders integrating GIS and reporting sightings on the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network web site. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is also a significant partner that has helped BIA develop strategies for a number of ecological threats, including invasive plants, invasive insects, and wildlife issues in the past. This summer TNC will conduct a coarse-scale survey on Beaver Island for autumn olive & spotted knapweed (TOP 5). Also, a fine-scale “early detection” survey for over 20 of the most threatening invasive species like Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard (Next 5). This survey will be very detailed, carried out on over 6,000 acres of public land, and will guide treatment and monitoring activities including the outer islands in the future. Plus, the Little
Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians (LTBB) is working on a management plan for their properties through a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant. As well as documenting plants of tribal significance, bio-diversity work on outer islands, and an aquatic invasive species plan for treatment and follow-up. Through cooperation between MDNR, TNC, LTBB, and MNFI, data & resources are in place to ensure treatment is accurately & appropriately carried out on the outer islands while they are still largely un-infested.
Invasive Species: What is an invasive plant? Invasive plants are typically non-native, rapidly reproducing species, which threaten the integrity of natural areas. Once established in an area, invasive species can have devastating effects. Finding and treating invasive plants as soon as they appear saves time and money on future efforts.
What should you look for?
Phragmites is a very tall grass that occurs in both native and non-native forms. The two forms are difficult to tell apart, but in general the invasive form occurs along Lake Michigan and inland lake shorelines in very dense stands that shade out other plants. The seed heads are large and loose and resemble a feather-duster when mature. The leaves are dark green (not yellow-green), and the stems are solid green, dull colored, slightly ribbed, with no spotting on the stem and little or no red where the leaves attach to the stem. Native Phragmitesplants have shiny, smooth stems with red where the leaves attach and spotting on the stem due to a native fungus that does not attack the invasive form.
Autumn olive is a shrub that is found in open habitats, such as road edges and old fields. It has small oval or lance-shaped leaves that alternate in their attachment to the stem. The leaves are usually grayish-green in color, and their undersides are silvery-white. The flowers are small, light yellow, and very fragrant. They appear soon after the plant leafs out in the spring or early summer. In the fall, the plant will be covered with small, edible red fruits with white spots. Seeds are spread by birds.
Scots pine (Scotch pine) is one of only three pine species on Beaver Island. It has very short, twisted needles (no more than 2 inches long) that occur two in a bundle. The native white pine has five needles per bundle, and the red pine, also native, has two needles per bundle, but the needles are 4 to 5 inches long. Scots pines are susceptible to a large number of diseases that can potentially infect native pine species. They also produce huge numbers of seeds that germinate quickly and crowd out native plants species of all types.
Marsh thistle (European swamp thistle) is a thistle that grows 3 to 5 feet tall. It has a rosette (circle) of leaves at the base that are long, spiny, and deeply lobed. The stem is thick, often reddish, and covered hairy spines and equally spiny, hairy leaves. The pinkish-purple flowers appear at the top of the stem in a tight cluster, usually in June or July. On Beaver Island this plant is more likely to be found in moist areas than in dry sand. The native Pitcher’s (beach) thistle, which is a federally threatened species, is found growing on sandy Lake Michigan beaches. It is a less spiny, shorter plant, with distinctive gray-green foliage, and has a single flower head that is a light yellow-purple. If in doubt, consult an expert before eradicating any thistles from sandy Lake Michigan beaches.
Spotted knapweed is an herbaceous (non-woody) plant found mostly in dry, open areas. The first year after germination it lives as a rosette (circle) of irregularly lobed gray-green leaves, and during the second year it flowers profusely from long, branched stalks 8-40 inches tall. There are leaves along the flowering stems that alternate with each other in their attachment to the stem. The stem leaves are lance-shaped or slightly lobed. The small pink to purple flowers are thistle-like in appearance and occur on individual stalks. The plant is difficult to eliminate because it has a deep taproot that will regrow if the above-ground plant is removed. Spotted knapweed contains an irritant chemical, so gloves should be worn while pulling. Because of its thistle-like appearance and gray-green leaves, it can be mistaken for native plants when not flowering, including wormwood and the federally endangered Pitcher’s (beach) thistle. If in doubt, consult an expert before removing.
Purple loosestrife grows up to 5 feet tall and is most often found in damp habitats. It has a square stem like a mint, and the pairs of leaves that occur on the stems grow directly opposite each other. The leaves are lance-shaped, and the stem and leaves are covered with fine hairs. It flowers from June until September and produces showy spikes of bright pink-purple flowers, sometimes with over 30 stems from a single plant. Purple loosestrife has been found in scattered clumps around the island, including along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It is important to be vigilant and eliminate this invasive before it becomes more common.
Giant hogweed (wild parsnip) can grow to 15 feet tall even though it is an herbaceous (not woody) plant. Its flowers are produced in an umbel, which is a multi-branched head composed of small flowers and shaped somewhat like an umbrella. The flowers are white and produced in June and July. The leaves, too, can be huge—exceeding 3 feet in diameter. They are deeply lobed and compound, meaning that there is more than one leaflet on a stalk. Unfortunately, this plant looks very similar to the native cow parsnip. The best way to tell the two apart is with stem characteristics. Giant hogweed has thick stems (2-4 inches) that are covered with purple or red blotches, particularly toward the base. There are also thick, white hairs at the base of the petioles (leaf stalks) where they join the stems. Cow parsnip has thinner stems (1-2 inches), and they are not prominently splotched with purple. There are also only small, fine hairs on the stem, with no thick growth of hairs at the base of the leaves. Giant hogweed is also toxic! If the sap from cutting leaves and stems gets on the skin which is then exposed to sunlight, there is a risk of developing severe welts and blisters. Do not attempt to eradicate giant hogweed on your own; consult an expert for help.
Japanese knotweed is a tall herbaceous (not woody) plant that resembles a shrub. It can grow 3-9 feet high in dense thickets. The leaves are 2-3 inches wide at the base, gradually narrowing to a sharp tip. They alternate with each other in their attachment to the stem. The stem is reddish, ribbed, and jointed where the leaves join the stem. The leaf petioles (stems) are about 1 inch long and are also reddish and ribbed. Flowers, which appear in late summer, occur in long, nodding spikes and are greenish-white. This plant spreads rapidly via rhizomes, which are underground horizontal roots. It cannot be eradicated by cutting it back; in fact, doing so may encourage more vigorous growth.
Garlic mustard is an herbaceous (not woody) plant that tolerates shade and is found most commonly in mature woods. Its leaves are rounded or triangular in shape with scalloped edges. The leaf veins are prominent and form a branching network pattern on the surface of the leaves. The plant grows 12-36 inches in height. The small flowers are white with four petals and occur in clusters at the top of the plant. On Beaver Island, it will be the only plant of its height flowering in the woods in May. At this time, garlic mustard is not a serious problem on the island, but it is important to eradicate any plants that are found to prevent the species from spreading.
Black locust is a tree species that spreads rapidly in dry, open areas. It is native to the Appalachian and Ozark Mountains but not the upper Midwest. It is a legume (member of the pea family), so its leaves, flowers, and pods resemble those of pea plants. The leaves are compound (multiple leaves on one stem) and the leaflets that comprise the leaf are oval in shape and widely spaced. The stems of the leaf clusters alternate with each other on a branch. The white pea-like flowers occur in fragrant, cascading clusters in May and June. The brown pods persist on the tree in well after the leaves fall off in the fall. Cutting a tree results in stump sprouting, and the horizontally spreading roots are capable of suckering.
You can help: Locate, monitor, control invasives.
To participate, email your name, address, affiliation or organization and phone number and email to:
INVASIVES ARCHIVE INFORMATION