A week to learn how to STOP invasive species

Emerald ash borer. Round goby. Purple loosestrife. Rusty crayfish. Zebra mussel. Glossy buckthorn. Wild parsnip. Phragmites grass.

Only a short part of a very long — and, unfortunately, still growing — list of species not native to Michigan that have more than managed to make themselves at home here in the Upper Peninsula or neighboring Wisconsin.

On the horizon: Asian longhorned beetle, a scourge of maple trees that already has turned up in Wisconsin, red swamp crayfish — the kind eaten down South, discovered earlier this month in two sites in lower Michigan; their habit of burrowing into earthen barriers such as dams make them a threat to infrastructure — and, ominously, Asian carp.

In all of these cases, these creatures did not make it here on their own but were transported, knowingly or by mistake, by humans.

So what can be done to at least slow this invasion?

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will highlight the identification, management and impact of invasive species during STOP the Invasives Week in Michigan state parks set for Tuesday through Aug. 6.

An invasive species is one whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment or human health, according to the DNR.

The annual STOP the Invasives program features informational hikes, aquatic and terrestrial education, games and other related hands-on programming. Participants will learn about invasive species found in Michigan, how to identify them and what visitors can do to help stop the spread. The program will take place at more than 40 state parks during this weeklong event.

STOP the Invasives Week and many other programs are led by state park Explorer Guides and park interpreters who work in the park.

To find when parks might offer this program, go to www.michigan.gov/natureprograms and click on the link “STOP the Invasives Week” under Special Programs and Activities. To see all available Explorer programming throughout the summer, view the interactive map or alphabetical list of parks.

To learn more about identifying and preventing the spread of invasive species, go to michigan.gov/invasivespecies.

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