For many people visiting and moving here, it’s all about the water. Unfortunately, the same is true for other, less-welcome entities: Eurasian watermilfoil, Quagga mussels, purple loosestrife and other invasive species. Combating these and other unwelcome plants and animals is an ongoing challenge. For example, Lake Leelanau has been in the news for its battle against Eurasian watermilfoil, a plant native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Now Glen Lake has discovered signs of the plant. If unchecked, it spreads quickly and forms thick mats in shallow areas. It blocks sunlight and kills native aquatic plants that fish and other underwater species rely on for food and shelter. Glen Lake Association watershed biologist Rob Karner says treating invasives follows a simple formula: find it, deal with it, and repeat until it’s gone. But while the formula may be simple, it’s far from easy.

They may be beautiful. They may look nice as lawn ornamentation. They may even be as familiar as the bouquet from the florist. But make no mistake: non-native plants and animals threaten native flora and fauna as well as the enjoyment residents and visitors derive from the area. Knotweed, barberry, baby’s breath and Eurasian milfoil are just a few of the invasive species found in our fields and forests, lakes and waterways. Some target specific hosts, such as hemlock wooly adelgid, and before that, the emerald ash borer. Others simply crowd out native plants, such as garlic mustard or autumn olive. The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network works with a number of partners, including the Leelanau Conservancy, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Leelanau Conservation District, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and numerous private landowners to combat these and other invasives.

The Old Indian Trail and surrounding area in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is closed due to invasive hemlock woolly adelgid, the Park reported in a March 1 press release. Surveys this January and February found a large infestation on the southern boundary of the National Lakeshore, along and around the area of the Old Indian Trail. This infestation has prompted an area closure to slow the spread and allow for treatment. Plans are in development to reopen the trail by the fall of 2024.

The Leelanau Conservancy is launching an all-out war on invasive garlic mustard and needs your help. Garlic Mustard is a European native with no natural enemies in Michigan.

I am grossed out. On the video, a creature reminiscent of horror flicks, B-movies, an almost pornographic monster, except it’s not a monster, except it’s real and it is a monster. Sortof. The winged thing trembles on a flesh-like surface. The film reveals in full detail the tail-end of the monster’s abdomen, where a serrated ovipositor descends, and a double row of “teeth” pierces the surface. Slowly, with mesmerizing tenacity, she saws into the thin-skinned softness, dipping ever deeper into the flesh. Then, and this is where I feel sick, out of that same organ she forces a single small white egg, deposits it firmly into the hole. The ovipositor closes, lifts like a machine, revealing a tiny filament still extending from the hole—the breathing tube of the egg. The egg’s breathing tube!?! The creature turns; huge red eyes stare straight into the camera, and after all that, the darn thing starts the process all over. Hundreds of times. I am not kidding.

On her way to work one morning this past summer, Kama Ross noticed some sick-looking oak trees near a recently cleared right-of-way in Bingham County. Luckily, Ross knew what she was looking at: the first confirmed case of oak wilt disease in Leelanau County.

The biological control of the widespread zebra and quagga mussel infestation in inland lakes will be the focus of a four-part seminar, “Water Issues For All of Us” to be held on Thursday, June 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Leelanau County Government Center, 8527 E. Government Center Drive, in Suttons Bay.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore proposes to update its Hazard Tree Management Plan (HTMP) to include responses to current and imminent tree disease epidemics. To do so, the National Lakeshore will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) that will describe and analyze alternative methods available for these responses and determine which to include in the plan update.

Once you know what it looks like, you see it everywhere — along roadsides, driveways, fences and the forest’s edge. The branches of Elaeagnus umbellate, a shrub more commonly known as Autumn Olive, droop over each other and create an umbrella of shade. Beginning in September, that umbrella is showered with small, olive-shaped, red berries which attract birds and wild food foragers.

The National Park Service (NPS) has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for a Great Lakes Invasive Plant Management Plan (IPMP) for the following 10 parks located in the Great Lakes region: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS), Grand Portage National Monument (GRPO), Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IATR), Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (INDU), Isle Royale National Park (ISRO), Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MISS), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (PIRO), Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SLBE), St. Croix National Scenic River (SACN) and Voyageurs National Park (VOYA).