Michigan DNR asks park visitors to be on the lookout for unwanted, invasive plants

Garlic Mustard, an invasive plant species making its way into Michigan
Visitors to Michigan state parks and recreation areas are encouraged to actively participate in protecting the parks from unwanted invasive plants by becoming part of the Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) initiative. Members of the DNR’s State Park Stewardship Unit say that spotting invasive plants early, before they become widely established, allows for more effective control.

In April, visitors can look for garlic mustard, an invasive species plant in both the northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas. Garlic mustard can be found anytime the ground is not snow covered, but especially in April when the plant starts to bolt and flower.

“It is crucial that we find invasive plants when they first arrive,” said Ray Fahlsing, DNR Parks and Recreation Stewardship Unit manager. “If we respond rapidly with control measures, we may be able to eliminate the invasive plant before it damages wildflowers and other natural resources.”

Garlic mustard crowds out native wildflowers and tree seedlings, changing the ecology of natural areas and impacting the diversity of wildlife. When garlic mustard becomes established in an area, recreation opportunities, such as wildlife watching and hunting, are diminished.

Most invasive species are introduced to new areas by humans. You can help prevent the spread of invasive plants by cleaning hiking boots/shoes, clothes, car and trailer tires or other equipment before entering or leaving a state park or recreation area. Reporting invasive plants in Michigan’s state parks or recreation areas protects the natural resources that offer public recreation and educational opportunities.

Possible sightings of garlic mustard and other invasive species can be reported at any state park by filling out the Unwanted Plants Detection Card, available at each park or recreation area. Visitors can also mark the location of the detected plants on a park visitor map, or by recording the GPS coordinates. Visitors can turn in the cards, maps or recorded information at any state park or recreation area, fax it to 517-373-4625, or mail it to DNR Parks and Recreation, Attention: EDDR, P.O. Box 30257, Lansing, MI 48909-7757. Sightings can also be reported at www.MISIN.msu.edu.

For more information about getting involved in the EDRR initiative, including how to identify invasive plants, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnr-parkstewardship.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.