Harmful invasive species in the Shiawassee River | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly MI

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Linden trees – The Shiawassee River is an important part of the community, but not every organism in the river is good for the environment.

On Sunday, July 18, the last day of River Fest in Linden, Patrick Scanlon of Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Shiawassee Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (GiLLS CISMA) led a paddle down the Shiawassee River to guide people across the invasive species that cause problems in waterways.

He paddled backwards so the group could hear his voice.

CISMA was founded in 2019 with the aim of working with local, state, and federal groups, as well as homeowners and organizations, to educate communities about invasive species in waterways.

“Invasive plants are more aggressive than native plants. They eat the food and nourishment that native plants need to thrive. They are causing extinction of the native plants that our wildlife depends on, ”said Patricia Cockfield of Keepers of the Shiawassee. “The spotted lantern fly, which is not our area but comes here from the Ohio area, can damage fruit trees. Michigan has many fruit trees like apples and cherries, and the destruction of those trees will have a big impact on our economy. “

Invasive species in the Shiawassee River

Blooming intoxication: a white, umbrella-like flower with light pink petals in the center, this species grows with upright foliage in shallow water or underwater with flexible leaves. Its native range is Europe and Asia, and there is concern that it may compete with native species for resources and hinder recreational activities.

Eurasian Milfoil: with long white stems and gray-green leaves with finely divided pairs of leaflets, this invasive species is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It forms large mats in the water that shade native aquatic plants and hinder activities. It is not a valuable source of food for waterfowl and disrupts fish predation. It can also clog private or industrial water inlets.

Starry stone herb: this plant is identified by the vertebrae of four to six branches / leaves with blunt tips and star-shaped bulbs produced at the nodes. It is native to Europe and western Asia and forms dense mats in bodies of water in alien environments that can significantly reduce the diversity of other aquatic plants. It can hinder fish movement, spawning activity, water flow, and recreational activity.

Purple loosestrife: This magenta-leaved plant has a woody, square stem covered with downy hairs, native to Europe and Asia. In non-native settings, it can quickly establish and replace native vegetation, resulting in a decrease in plant diversity.

There are a few invasive species that experts expect in the area, including Tree of Heaven, a fast-growing deciduous tree with roots that damage sewers and structures and produce chemicals that stunt the growth of other plants. Japanese knotweed, a shrub with white flowers, grows very aggressively and by limiting light excludes native plants and releases a toxin that suppresses their growth.

Movement of invasive species

These species can be attached to boats that enter and exit various bodies of water.

“It is therefore important to empty the bilge water and wash the boat after leaving one body of water and before entering another body of water. We are looking into setting up some boat wash stations at some launch sites, ”said Cockfield. “Invasives also come when people release their pets in the river or lake when they no longer want them. People also throw their aquarium plants and animals into the river or lake. “

Seeds can also get airborne and travel with the wind, and dumping live bait into a river or lake is another way invasive species can spread and spread.

“Roadside invasive plants come from seeds clinging to tires on cars and construction equipment,” Cockfield said. “That’s one of the reasons we have so many phragmites on the side of the road. Birds eat the seeds of invasive plants and distribute them undigested in their droppings. “

Firewood is another receptacle for invasive species because it can hold the larvae of invasive beetles. Some plants have long tubers or underground roots.

What can the church do?

The Keepers of the Shiawassee plan numerous paddling trips to clear the river. She said it was important to know what is invasive and how to report it. The public can use the information network on invasive species of the Midwest below misin.msu.edu/report.

“Homeowners by rivers and lakes should learn to protect the banks from erosion. You should think about planting a natural shoreline with native plants as opposed to a cosmetically beautiful landscape, ”said Cockfield.

Limiting the use of fertilizers and pesticides that can get into lakes will help, and limiting the amount of road salt that gets into sewers.

Invasive species can also be found trash floating on the water.

“Please collect rubbish while you navigate the river. Take a rubbish bag with you. In the spring and fall we have river cleaning days when we collect rubbish and open passages through fallen trees and logs, ”said Cockfield.


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