Ottawa County is one of the beneficiaries of a recent round of grant funding from the Michigan departments of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources, and Agriculture and Rural Development aimed at controlling the spread of invasive species.
The West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) — comprised of Ottawa, Allegan, Muskegon and Oceana counties — received funding for two projects: $200,000 for surveying and mapping the distribution of the hemlock woolly adelgid within infested counties; and $299,400 for treating the same pest in West Michigan in infested areas on public and private lands.
“We are thrilled about that,” said Ottawa County Parks Natural Resources Management Supervisor Melanie Manion.
Manion said that the CISMA is trying to do “early detection/rapid response” work that is related to containing the spread of the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Experts say the bug can kill hemlock trees in as little as four years. Its establishment threatens the more than 170 million hemlock trees that grow in Michigan’s forests and landscapes.
“Hemlocks play such a critical component in our ecosystem,” Manion said. “If we don’t stop this, it is going to be devastating.”
Manion said that there could be a multitude of negative impacts if hemlock trees are affected, from a loss in property values to environmental impacts such as degradation of fish habitat.
Treatment will occur in areas where outbreaks have been documented, and survey efforts will span an additional 10 counties along the Lake Michigan coast to determine the extent of the infestation.
The two West Michigan projects are a part of 23 projects across the state to share $3.6 million in funding through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, which was launched in 2014 to prevent and control invasive species.
The program targets four key objectives:
Preventing new introductions of invasive species through outreach and education.
Monitoring for new invasive species and the expansion of existing invasive species.
Responding to and conducting eradication efforts for new findings and range expansions.
Strategically managing and controlling key colonized species.
“Michigan’s Invasive Species Grant Program provides vital support to our partners throughout the state in the fight against invasive species,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “Protecting our world-class woods and waters to ensure these valuable natural resources remain healthy and accessible to current and future generations is one of our most important priorities. These grant dollars will go a long way toward making that happen.”