Posts Tagged ‘Michigan’

Watch Out for Wild Parsnip

Invasive plants and animals are typically only a threat to other plants and animals, but occasionally they can be a danger to us as well.

While giant hogweed is on the watch list in Michigan as a new invasive species, wild parsnip is becoming more common, especially in the northern parts of Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

And while it’s looks similar to other members of the wild carrot family, this is one plant you definitely don’t want to mess with. Contact with its juices can cause rashes, blisters, and burns. The skin discoloration can last for years.

The article below has more details about wild parsnip. You can also get good identification information here.

Watch Out for Wild Parsnip

Originally published: July 19, 2016

U.S. Forest Service, Hiawatha National Forest

Flowering Yellow umbel of Wild ParsnipGladstone, MI — Wild Parsnip, also known as Pastinaca sativa, is an herbaceous perennial with yellow-flowered umbels atop 3- to 5-foot tall stems.  While it may be pretty to look at, people who touch the plant soon discover its less appealing trait:  When the juices of the Wild Parsnip plant touch your skin and are exposed to ultra-violet light, they cause serious rashes, burns and blisters called “phytophotodermatitis.” The resulting skin discoloration can last several months. If you come in contact with Wild Parsnip and notice development of burns, cover the affected area with a cool, wet cloth and seek medical attention.

Wild Parsnip’s toxic compounds (called furanocoumarins) are found in the juices of its leaves, stems, flowers, and even fruits. Phytophotodermatitis will usually appear within 24 to 48 hours and is painful.  In many cases, the blisters will lead to brownish pigmentation that can last for years.

According to Hiawatha National Forest’s East Zone Botanist, Stephanie Blumer, this invasive plant has become increasingly common across the Upper Peninsula.

“The key for outdoors enthusiasts,” she said, “is to learn to recognize this plant so that when you see it, you can avoid it.”

How can you recognize Wild Parsnip?  While it looks similar to several other carrot family plants, the flowers of Wild Parsnip are yellow and the stem is smooth and green with very few hairs. Its leaves are long, saw toothed, pinnately compound and form a basal rosette during the first year. The leaves are further divided into leaflets that grow across from each other along the stem, with 2 to 5 pairs of opposite leaflets. In its second year from June until mid-July, and sometimes even through late summer, the plant flowers. Its flowers are small and yellow with five petals and there are hundreds per plant. The flowers are arranged in 2-6 inch wide umbels at the tops of stems and branches, and there are usually no bracts, and very small or non-existent sepals at the base of the flowers.

“As Wild Parsnip spreads, more people are coming into contact with it,”” said Deb LeBlanc, West Zone Plant Ecologist for the Hiawatha. She added that individuals who will be working, hiking, or involved in other activities around the plant can reduce the risk of exposure by wearing long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and long pants.

What are your chances of encountering Wild Parsnip?  While it originates from Eurasia, Wild Parsnip has become a common invasive plant in U.P roadsides, ditches, and other disturbed open areas.  Believed to have been introduced to North America by early European settlers who grew it as a tap root; the wild populations are thought to be a result of escaped cultivated plants. Wild Parsnip is a plant that inhabits various growing conditions such as dry, moist, and even wet-mesic prairies, oak-openings, and calcareous fens.

Once it invades open ranges, it begins to take over in waves and spreads rapidly, especially in disturbed areas. This invasive plant is spread through the distribution of its seeds that are carried by the wind, vehicles, equipment, and water. The seeds themselves, are typically large, slightly yellow, ribbed, flat, and round. It is around September through November that the plant will produce its seed and being a monocarpic perennial, once the plant seeds, it will die. However, the seeds can remain viable in the soil for up to four years, thus adding to the difficulties of eradicating the plants existence.

“Wild parsnip has been designated as a State Noxious weed in approximately 35 states. “Besides the obvious health risk, the plant is problematic due to its ecologically invasive habit,”” said LeBlanc.

For further information on Wild Parsnip contact your local Forest Service botanist at 906-387-2512 extension 20 or 906-643-7900.

Scholarship Opportunity for Wilderness Camp

Scholarship opportunity for Riley Wilderness Youth Camp

boy and girl fishing from dockEach year, Michigan United Conservation Clubs sponsors the Michigan Out-of-Doors (MOOD) Youth Camp at the Cedar Lake Outdoor Center in Chelsea. In the last seven decades, MOOD Youth Camp has engaged 57,000 young people in Michigan’s natural resources, taught them outdoor technical skills, and helped them develop a passion for conservation.

As part of a partnership with the Riley Wilderness Youth Camp, sponsored by SCI-Novi with a generous donation from the Riley Foundation, 80 boys and girls have the opportunity to learn more about hunting, conservation, environmental sciences and even obtain their hunter safety certificates. Riley Wilderness youth get a full scholarship to attend one of two sessions of camp, depending upon their age:

  • Junior Camp (ages 9-11), July 23-28
  • Advanced Camp (ages 12-14), July 30-Aug. 4

Each camp features a sampling of outdoor activities, ranging from archery and canoeing to fishing and hunter safety class.

These scholarships are available to youth who are interested in connecting with and learning more about the outdoors, and all are encouraged to apply.  For more information about scholarship criteria and an application, visit www.scinovi.com/rwyc.html.

More information about the camp can be found at www.mucccamp.org, or by contacting Camp Director Tyler Butler at tbutler@mucc.org.


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.

Lansing Board of Water & Light Supports Trees

PRESS RELEASE

 Contact Information:

Jennifer Hunnell                                                                      Phone: (517) 543-1512 x 5

Michigan Arbor Day Alliance                                               Email: miarborday@gmail.com

551 Courthouse Dr., Suite 3, Charlotte, MI  48813         Website: miarbordayalliance.org

Sent: 3-16-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On or after 3-16-17

Lansing Board of Water and Light Supports the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance

 Charlotte, MI –  The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance (MADA) is happy to announce that the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) has contributed $6,000 to support the State Arbor Day Celebration and MADA outreach programs.

“MADA is excited to partner once again with the Board of Water and Light. They have been a great partner for several years and we are looking forward to their contribution helping this program continue to grow,” said Jennifer Hunnell, Michigan Arbor Day Alliance Program Coordinator.

Each year, MADA hosts the State Arbor Day Celebration in Lansing. The official celebration for the state of Michigan, this event invites 1,100 second and third graders from all around mid-Michigan to attend a day of outdoor fun and education. Students learn about water, soil, trees, and wildlife from a team of dedicated volunteers. Each student also leaves with their very own tree seedling which they can plant at home, taking a little piece of Arbor Day with them.

This is what BWL had to say about the program: “We are proud to be part of the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance Team. The BWL recognizes the value of supporting a program that emphasizes the benefits of a community outreach that encourages youth participation. It is important that we continue to educate our kids to understand the vital role trees play in our communities.” Lynn McKinstry, Manager, Electric System Operations for the BWL.

In addition to the State Arbor Day Celebration, MADA rolled out their 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest. The donation from BWL helped get this program off the ground. This was an opportunity for Michigan students to express their creativity and learn about trees at the same time. First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded, including a tree planting for the winning schools. This year, 72 students participated, a great start to a new program!

The Michigan Arbor Day Alliance is a program of the Eaton Conservation District and made possible through support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Another Great Year

Another year has come and gone. So long 2016, it was nice knowing you.

We have been up to quite a lot over the last year and there are more things to come! We’re introducing a new program this year, hope to form more partnerships, plan on planting more trees, and having another fabulous Arbor Day Celebration. Let’s show the rest of the country how Michigan does trees!

To catch up on all of our awesome accomplishments over the last year, you can read our annual Year in Review report. It’s pretty short and sweet, so don’t worry.

You can see the report on our website, just scroll to the middle of the page and look for the “Annual Report” heading. You can also see pictures from all our events here.

We’re looking forward to a great 2017 and hope you are too. Happy New Year!

mada-year-in-review-report-2016_page_1

Hope for the Ash Tree

Experts thought the ash tree was doomed. With the introduction of one tiny insect in 2002, its demise seemed inevitable. The Emerald Ash Borer specifically targets ash trees for their hosts. They lay their eggs under the bark and the larvae wreak havoc, chewing up the tree from the inside, before they emerge as adults and cause destruction to the leaves as they feed and reproduce, starting the cycle all over again.

In the wake of Dutch Elm Disease, many Michigan communities planted mostly ash to replace the dead elm trees, setting the stage. By planting mostly one species, many communities lost nearly all their trees once the beetle reached them. The insect simply flew from one tree to the next, spreading like wildfire. Any tree that was planted or naturally grew in infested areas was almost always attacked once it reached a decent size.

It seemed like a losing battle.

Yet, there may still be hope of having ash trees around.

Hope for ash

An adult ash borer within the wood tissue. Image: Gerald Wheeler

Ash borer leaves a destructive trail through wood tissue. Image: Gerald Wheeler

By Colleen Otte

Experts used to say the number of ash trees lost in Michigan was tens of millions.

Now they say hundreds of millions, according to Deb McCullough, a professor in Michigan State University’s entomology and forestry departments. Still, there’s hope for the ash’s survival.

“In a nutshell, what I found is that [ash] seems to be holding on quite well,” said Dan Kashian, who studies ash tree regeneration.

The mortality varies among species, but now the devastation has become an international epidemic, McCullough said. While some patches are worse than others, it’s hard to find a lot of live ash trees in Lower Michigan and much of the eastern and central Upper Peninsula.

The culprit is the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, an exotic Asian beetle discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. Adult beetles are metallic green and about 1/2-inch long. They hitched rides on ship and plane cargo originating from Asia and moving to Detroit.

“The longest history of the emerald ash borer in North America is right in the greater metro Detroit area,” McCullough said.

Kashian, an associate professor at Wayne State University, found himself in this prime location for assessing the plight of the ash.

“It’s been here longer than it’s been anywhere else, so it’s a good place to study what it’s going to look like, say, in Traverse City in 15 years or 10 years or something,” he said.

The three main ash species in Michigan are green, white and black ash. They grow in very different places, according to Kashian: black ash in swamps, green ash near rivers and white ash in the uplands.

The front of an merald ash borer head. Image: S. Ellis

Kashian is studying how the different species respond to the ash borer. So far, his team has only set up seed traps and other regeneration trackers in 17 pockets in southeastern Michigan that are almost entirely green ash.

For five years, the study quantified how many seeds fell and how many new seedlings took root.

“It looks awful because the big trees are all being killed, and in terms of it ever looking like it did before the emerald ash borer came through, it’s probably never going to happen,” Kashian said. “But the species does not – at least based on what I’ve seen – look like it’s going to disappear, which is what a lot of people were predicting.”

MSU and other leading agricultural researchers, as well as government and non-profit institutions, have created and now support the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network, a multinational effort to share the latest information about the emerald ash borer as it spreads.

The network reports that the insect is established in Windsor, Ontario, was found in Ohio in 2003, northern Indiana in 2004, northern Illinois and Maryland in 2006, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2007, Wisconsin, Missouri and Virginia in the summer of 2008, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky in the spring of 2009, Iowa in the spring of 2010, Tennessee in the summer of 2010, Connecticut, Kansas, and Massachusetts in the summer of 2012, New Hampshire in the spring of 2013, North Carolina and Georgia in the summer of 2013, Colorado in the fall of 2013, New Jersey in the spring of 2014, Arkansas in the summer of 2014, Louisiana in the winter of 2015.

“We will never see emerald ash borer densities at the same level that they were originally, because the carrying capacity of those systems has dropped hugely,” McCullough said. “When the big trees die, you’re not churning out nearly as many beetles, so the populations of the ash borer are going to remain lower for the foreseeable future. Whether they will stay low enough to give some of those young trees a chance to mature, we’ll have to see.”

Kashian said he wouldn’t go as far as to say the ash and the borer have reached an equilibrium.

“But we seem to be approaching some kind of balance with the bug at this population level and the trees hanging on,” he said.

The prevailing story of other studies is that the borer will eliminate ash in Michigan as it spreads. That’s because the studies were done in mixed forests where green ash were dying and different trees grew into the space, said Kashian.

In the pure stands of ash that Kashian studied, the dying green ash only made way for new ash seedlings.

“It’s very dependent on how much ash is there,” he said. “I think the more ash that’s there, the more likely it is to survive. A lot of people think intuitively the opposite – the conventional wisdom is that if it’s a pure stand, the bugs will just go crazy and kill everything.”

In northern Michigan, big stands of white ash are a concern. Though Kashian’s team hasn’t studied white ash yet, he suspects a similar phenomenon in which the trees growing in mixed forests won’t fare as well as those in pure stands.

A parasitic wasp injects its egg in the egg of an emerald ash borer where it will hatch, grow and kill the host egg. Image: Jian Duan

While it’s still early to tell, Kashian said there is some indication that where parasitic wasps were released to control the ashborers, larger ashes survived and more of them regenerated.

It might not be ideal to release a nonnative species, he said, but if we want to maintain nice, big ash trees, it’s something we need to do.

“The most well-funded programs aren’t even talking about stopping the emerald ash borer, they’re talking about slowing it,” Kashian said. “Whether or not (bio control) is cheap is kind of a moot point because there’s not really any other choice.”

For the eight-plus billion ash trees in the forest in the U.S., it’s hard to justify treating with an insecticide, McCullough said.

“It’s just not economically or environmentally appropriate,” she said. “That means you have to look for other options, and right now we don’t have much else other than bio control.”

The Emerald Ash Borer Biological Control Production Facility in Brighton, Michigan, rears Asian wasps that fight the borer.

“We work with the federal entities and the state entities to identify infested sites within each individual state,” said Ben Slager, the manager of the lab facility.

The borer has been identified in 27 states, and the lab has three more to distribute to: Georgia, Texas and Nebraska, Slager said. The tiny, wasp-like parasitoids were first released in Michigan in 2007, and have been released in all eight of the Great Lakes states.

“One of the goals for our agency is to get parasitoids into every infested county,” he said. “Last year, (the lab) put out 1.2 million, the year before that it was 750,000 and we’ve been steadily increasing through the years.”

The Bio Control Production Facility releases three different species of the wasps and is in the process of introducing a fourth. Its production of the fourth species has been ongoing since last fall, Slager said, but while they are doing scheduled releases this season, it’s only on a limited basis since they are still getting their rearing methods and procedures down.

The benefit of the new species is that it can lay eggs in trees with thicker bark because it has a longer ovipositor.

Lexington Arbor Day Celebration

Lexington, MI, was recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA community for its commitment to urban forestry. Lexington has earned this national designation for two years.

 The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.

“We commend Lexington’s elected officials, volunteers and its citizens for providing vital care for its urban forest,” said John Rosenow, chief executive and founder of the Arbor Day Foundation.  “Trees provide numerous environmental, economical and health benefits to millions of people each day, and we applaud communities that make planting and caring for trees a top priority.”

An educational activity box from the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance was provided to Meyer Elementary School by the Village of Lexington Environmental Committee.  The students learned about trees and their importance and assembled on April 28 to view a video.  White spruce seedlings provided by The Sanilac Conservation District were distributed to 4th grade students on Arbor Day, April 29. 

Four trees were planted on April 29 at the Memorial Park Cemetery on Union Street.  “Our community may be small, but out dedication is large,” said Jamie McCombs, chairperson of the Environmental Committee.  “We appreciate the financial donation from the Lakeshore Garden Club of Lexington, a memorial dogwood from the family of Dolores Sark, and the ever hard-working DPW.”