Joint forces battle invaders: Many interests have skin in invasive species game

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Shown here is an area near Houghton that KISMA is treating for giant knotweed. A heavy carpet smothers roots and prevents regrowth while the cuttings dry on top, preventing the spread of seeds or cuttings to a compost pile or landfill.

When it comes to combatting invasive species, the mission becomes more effective with more boots on the ground.

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s Natural Resources Department (NRD) has partnered with Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area (KISMA) for joint projects targeting invasive species across Keweenaw, Houghton and Baraga counties.

“We all work together to carry out each other’s plan,” Kathy Smith, habitat specialist with the NRD, said.

Several NRD staff are licensed to use the chemicals that KISMA staff is not, so they can apply pesticides.

Other partners have training in snorkeling, which is particularly useful for eradicating Eurasian water milfoil. Eurasion water milfoil is an invasive seaweed that hinders fish reproduction and adversely impacts boating.

“It gets caught up in their props,” said Sigrid Resh, KISMA coordinator.

Washing boats and trailers down before moving to a new lake or stream can prevent the spread of milfoil and other invasives like the spiny water flea, too.

KISMA partners will staff boat washes on busy days at popular boat ramps when they can.

ATV tires and boots spread other species and can be brushed off as riders and hikers leave the trail.

NRD programs focus on several plants, but the priority is Japanese barberry.

“We replace it with medicinal plants,” said Smith.

Ginger root, a natural heart medicine, grows well in the same environment as Japanese barberry. Because of that benefit, it is also a cash crop that is harvested and marketed as a spice and homeopathic medicine.

But for the purposes of fighting the invasive barberry plant, planting ginger root after eradicating the invasive species helps keep the invader from regrowing.

Landowners and citizens looking to report invasive species, ask for help or volunteer can contact KISMA at kisma.up@gmail.com.

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