The Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources, and Agriculture and Rural Development announced that 17 projects across the state have been allocated over $3.5 million through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, an initiative launched in 2014 to help prevent and control harmful invasive species throughout the state.
“Collaboration like this is critical to safeguarding Michigan’s world-class woods and waters and ensuring these valuable natural resources remain healthy and accessible to current and future generations,” says DNR director Keith Creagh.
This year’s program includes seven cooperative invasive species management areas, providing education and management assistance in 35 counties, including protecting inland lake fisheries from the sea lamprey.
New this year, in lieu of traditional lampricide treatment, sterile male sea lamprey will be released into a 40-mile chain of lakes and rivers from just north of Petoskey to Lake Huron. Due to their parasitic nature, sea lamprey have been negatively affecting the Great Lakes fishing industry for decades, decreasing catches of whitefish, perch, and trout from 15 million pounds to 300,000 pounds in the 20 years since their population explosion, according to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
The program will also focus on protecting hemlock and oak forests throughout northern Michigan and Belle Isle’s rare wet-mesic flatwood forest, and increased prevention and reporting of invasive species overall through citizen involvement and professional development workshops.
The program targets four key objectives include: preventing new introductions of invasive species through outreach and education, monitoring for new invasive species and the expansion of existing ones, strategically managing and controlling key colonized species, and conducting eradication efforts for new findings and range expansions.
In the three years since the program’s initiation by the Michigan Legislature, more than $11 million has been awarded in grants to local governments, non-profits, and institutions for on-the-ground management and the development of innovative methods for controlling invasive species.