Sterling Heights

State grants engage public in fight against invasive species

If you've noticed an abundance of Japanese Knotweed, an invasive species, creeping into local nature spaces, then you are not the only one concerned.

Six Rivers Land Conservancy was recently awarded three state grants totaling $256,200 to tackle invasive plant species like the Fallopia japonica, or Japanese Knotweed. The funding will support its ongoing efforts in addressing invasive species through the work of two full-time invasive species coordinators—one covering Macomb and St. Clair counties and one in Oakland County—and coordinators hope to take the fight to the people.

The grants are provided through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, an initiative encouraging the development of Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs). CISMAs work with local partners to raise awareness about invasive species and advise the public on identification and management. 

McKenzi Waliczek is helping raise public awareness of invasive species.

“I’m glad to be continuing our efforts to raise invasive species awareness and help build a resilient landscape to strengthen our natural communities,” said Lake St. Clair CISMA coordinator McKenzi Waliczek.

“In 2020, we plan to increase our citizen participation in efforts to detect infestations that threaten our natural areas."

Sterling Heights Recreation Superintendent Matt Sharp said because areas afflicted by Japanese knotweed are limited along the Clinton River trail, there's the possibility of making substantial progress in the coming years.

"Control is vital with knotweed," Sharp said. "Even a small stand has the potential to create a massive monoculture in a short amount of time."

Japanese KnotwoodWaliczek supports CISMA partners and the public by hosting trainings and events, providing outreach materials, managing websites and social media, presenting to local groups and managing grants to control invasive species and restore native landscapes. Over the past two years, she has treated over 1,176 acres of invasive species and surveyed over 83,000 acres of land.

The Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program awarded $3.6 million in this year’s grant cycle, funding over 30 projects that aim to prevent new invasive species introductions and support the management and control of widely established invasive species, among other goals.

If you have seen this plant or would like to spend more time outdoors this summer learning plant identification, please contact the CISMA.
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Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at