Conservation Groups Seek Saugatuck Approval To Start Invasive Species' Work At Mt. Baldhead
The City of Saugatuck will be one of the beneficiaries of a half-a-million-dollar federal grant to deal with those invasive species that are not yet too expansive to manage and control.
At Monday’s Saugatuck City Council meeting, representatives from the Allegan Conservation District and the Nature Conservancy - partners in the effort along with several other organizations - sought city officials’ green light to start surveying Mt. Baldhead.
The Mt. Baldhead area is one the project sites of “The Sustain Our Great Lakes” (a subset of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative) grant, which will target the Lake Michigan shoreline, from Mt. Baldhead to Ludington State Park.
The grant will not help in the fight against deeply rooted invasives such as phragmites, identified last year as being a big nuisance in the Saugatuck area, including Mt. Baldhead and the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area.
Nor will the effort help in controlling the oriental bittersweet, also a major problem at Mt. Baldhead in recent years.
The Sustain Our Great Lakes project involves what is referred to as Early Detection/Rapid Response (EDRR), and requires local municipality approval.
City officials asked the conservancy groups to provide a survey of the project site as well as details of what invasive species they will try and control before proceeding with the work, including pesticide applications.
The conservation groups’ officials assert all invasive specie control methods and procedures have been approved by appropriate state agencies.
“Invasive species were estimated to cost the U.S. more than $120 billion per year back in 1999. In all likelihood that number has risen as more non-native invasive species have been introduced into the country.
“By focusing on Early Detection/Rapid Response species locally, we can efficiently protect against the introduction of new species before they become major, expensive problems to fix down the road,” said Justin Burchett, executive director of the Allegan Conservation District.
“In short, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he added.
Some of the EDRR species may include Japanese knotweed, kudzu, baby’s-breath, pale swallow wort, among others.
“Our coastal restoration project not only benefits the native ecology of the globally unique West Michigan dunes (part of the world’s largest freshwater dune system), but also sustains and increases all the benefits humans derive from those systems,” noted Burchett.
“Healthy, intact, resilient coastal dunes provide recreation opportunities, support regional economies, drive ecotourism, filter water and provide storm-surge buffering,” said Eastern Lake Michigan Project Manager Shaun Howard of The Nature Conservancy.
His organization is serving as the federal grant administrator and is a partner in the Michigan Dune Alliance (MDA), a group of coastal conservation groups focused on protecting and restoring dunes and associated ecosystems