Invasive Species

Emerald Ash Borer

How do invasives spread?

  Invasive species are often spread unintentionally by people and their activities. Aquatic invasives can be carried by ships in their ballast  water or as stow aways on boating and recreational equipment. Invasive insects find their way into crates which then get shipped around the country and the world or in firewood which gets transported to homes and campsites. Invasive terrestrials are often ornamental plants that jump fences and borders and escape into the wild and then become invasive. Some invasives are even household pets that get released when the owner either can no longer take care of them or they have simply outgrown them. When an invasive species is introduced into an ecosystem, it can be damaging or harmful. It may not have any natural predators causing it to breed and spread rapidly. It can completely take over an area in a short amount of time if there are no natural predators to keep it in check. This can be devastating to native wildlife and vegetation. Invasive species education and control costs the United States over $100 billion every year. Knowledge is the key to prevention. Learn about invasive threats in your community. If you think you have found an invasive species, report it so it can be accurately identified. Proper identification is essential to managing any species. Help stop the  spread of invasive species by spreading your knowledge about prevention to others. Funding for this project has been provided by MISGP  (Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program). 



 The Iron Baraga Conservation District views Zebra Mussels as a species  of concern.  Zebra Mussel’s are usually under 1 inch in size, but can be  up to 2 inches. They are black to brownish in color with alternating  light and dark stripes and have a “D” shaped shell. They attach to hard  surfaces such as rocks, docks and boats and live in depths of 6 feet ,  up to 30 feet of nutrient, calcium rich water.

Zebra Mussels  interfere with the aquatic food web and oppress native clams, mussels  and crayfish. They help accelerate the growth of Eurasian Watermilfoil.   They litter the beaches and make it dangerous to walk barefoot. They  cause major damage when colonies block pipes, affecting power plants and  water treatment facilities. Larvae can get drawn into boat engine  intakes and can colonize the interiors of the engine cooling systems.

Zebra  Mussels can impact the quality of water with their decomposing bodies.  This decomposition disturbs fish spawning habits which leads to less  fish and it can make the water we swim in have a foul odor or taste.  Just one female can produce more than 1 million eggs in a year. They are  a very tolerant species which makes it easy to spread them but yet,  hard to control.  Funding for this project has been provided by MISGP  (Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program). 



 The Iron Baraga Conservation District considers Garlic mustard a species  of concern. It can grow up to 4 ft in height and its leaves give off a  garlic odor when crushed. Garlic mustard has flowers that grow 4 small  white petals, in a cluster on a single stem. The leaves are triangular  and sharply toothed. Garlic mustard blooms in late April through early  June.   

        Garlic Mustard is a threat because it drives out  native species. It exudes antifungal chemicals into the soil which  suppresses native growth of plants and trees. This chemical is also  dangerous to some species of butterflies. This plant can impact both  plants and animals. Garlic Mustard is able to scatter seeds up to 9 feet  away. It produces about 3,000 seeds per plant and can cross pollinate  or self pollinate depending on environment. To prevent its spread,  report all sightings. Avoid transporting plants or seeds by traveling  through infested areas and remove all seeds from clothing, shoes, pets,  equipment and tire treads. Funding for this project has been provided by  MISGP (Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program). 

Invasive Species

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed


 Japanese Knotweed is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of  the world’s worst invasive species. It grows from 5 to 10 feet in height. The flowers are numerous clusters of small greenish-white  petals. Japanese knotweed has an alternate spade or heart shaped leaf  arrangement. It blooms in early August through September.

Japanese  Knotweed is a threat because it grows quickly and forms a thick,  impenetrable bush. A bush so thick it obscures access to pathways and  waterways. It kills native plants and grasses. Loss of native species could increase riverbank erosion and severely alter the natural ecosystem. It cracks road ways, pavement and cement which can cause damage to buildings and infrastructure. Japanese Knotweed is spread by  seeds and rhizomes, or underground stems. It invades new areas by stem and root fragments. Fragments are transported by water and people who  unknowingly transfer it to new sites in fill dirt. It can reproduce from a fragment the size of a fingernail. To prevent its spread, NEVER buy, sell or plant Japanese Knotweed. If cutting or mowing it, properly dispose of it by bagging it or burning it. DO NOT COMPOST! Always clean construction equipment to avoid moving soil with seeds or fragments.  Funding for this project has been provided by MISGP (Michigan Invasive  Species Grant Program). 


Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed


 The Iron Baraga Conservation District recognizes Phragmites as a species  of concern. Phragmites is a plant similar to bamboo that grows 10-15 feet in height. The leaves are lanced shaped and 8-16 inches long. It has flowers that are light purple to brownish in color. The flowers  bloom mid to late summer and look similar to wheat. Later in summer, the  flowers will appear grayer due to the growth of long, silky hairs. Phragmites threatens our beaches by blocking access to swimming areas. It blocks beautiful shoreline views and decreases property  values. It offers no food or shelter to marsh dependent wildlife. It destroys the pool habitats of fish. It pushes out native animals and kills plants by producing harmful chemicals which attack the vulnerable plants and seedlings. Each fall the plant dies, creating very dry  vegetation which could cause fast spreading fires. It spreads by seeds  and underground stems or rhizomes. In favorable conditions, it can spread up to 16 feet or more in one year. Funding for this project has  been provided by MISGP (Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program). 

Starry Stonewort

Japanese Knotweed

Eurasian Watermilfoil


 The Iron Baraga Conservation District deems Starry Stonewort a species of concern. Starry Stonewort has whorls of 4-6 inches long, and uneven length branches along the main stem. It anchors itself using a colorless filament resembling fish line. This filament contains several star shaped bulbils. It reproduces by these bulbils. Starry stonewort can reach 6 feet in length and can grow at depths of up to 29 feet.

Starry  Stonewort may look like a rooted aquatic plant but it is actually a grass-like form of algae. It infests lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. It forms dense mats that cover lake bottoms and surfaces. It grows so dense it can form what appears to be an underwater wall. It can reduce  fish spawning habitats and competes with native vegetation. Starry Stonewort is spread unintentionally by its bulbils and fragments that get attached to boats, trailers, anchors, and other water related  equipment. Always remove vegetation and animals from boats, trailers and  equipment. Using the Clean, Drain and Dry methods on trailers, boats  and equipment will help prevent the spread of this invasive to uninfected waters. Funding for this project has been provided by MISGP  (Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program). 

Eurasian Watermilfoil

Eurasian Watermilfoil

Eurasian Watermilfoil


 The Iron Baraga Conservation District recognizes Eurasian Watermilfoil as a species of concern. Eurasian Watermilfoil has delicate, feathery leaves and it usually has 12-21 leaflet pairs per leaf. The leaves are in whorls or circles of 3 to 5 off the stem. The leaves are limp when out of the water and it is found in water less than 20 feet deep.

Eurasian  watermilfoil was once commonly sold as an aquarium plant. It is  considered by many to be one of the worst aquatic weeds in North America. It forces out important native aquatic plants needed for a balanced environment and hearty, healthy fish population. Eurasian  watermilfoil spreads rapidly through stem fragments and underground  runners. It can form massive, bulky stands of entangled stems and  extensive mats of vegetation on the surface of the water.  This can  interfere with water recreation such as boating, swimming and fishing.

      People can do a lot to prevent the spread of Eurasian watermilfoil. If you find it, report it to your local DNR or your local Conservation District. To prevent introducing Eurasian watermilfoil into other lakes, engage in Clean, Drain and Dry. Clean your boat, trailer, anchor and  all recreational equipment of all plant materials. Drain all water from boat motors, live well and bilge. Dry your boat and equipment after washing it in hot (140 degrees) water. You can also leave your boat and  equipment in the sun for at least 5 days before heading to a different  body of water. Funding for this project has been provided by MISGP  (Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program). 

Jumping Worm

Eurasian Watermilfoil

European Frog-Bit


 The Iron Baraga Conservation District views Jumping Worm to be a species  of growing concern. The jumping worm usually grows 3 to 5 inches in length but can grow up to 7 inches. It has a white smooth band around body instead of puffy raised one. It is brown to grayish black in color and behaves more like a snake. The jumping worm can slither and thrash around when handled and can even appear to jump into the air. The jumping worm is popular as fishing bait due to the fact it thrashes around and attracts fish. It is also used in gardens to improve garden soil. When let loose in our forests, the jumping worm completely changes the soil and disturbs the natural composition of leaf debris on the forest floor. They turn good, healthy soil into dry, grainy worm poop that cannot support the plants in our forests. They reproduce quickly and asexually, meaning they can reproduce on their own, without a mate. The adult jumping worm cannot survive the winter but their cocoons can. The worms or cocoons can be accidentally introduced to a new environment through  potted plants, nursery stock or soil. To prevent the spread of the jumping worm, only use, plant or purchase plants that appear to be free of jumping worms. Only use compost that has been heated to appropriate temperatures in order to kill the worms. Funding for this project has  been provided by MISGP (Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program). 

European Frog-Bit

Eurasian Watermilfoil

European Frog-Bit


The Iron Baraga Conservation District considers European Frog-bit a species of concern. European Frog-bit is a floating plant that resembles  a miniature water lily. It has heart shaped leaves about the size of a quarter or 50 piece. It has a small, white flower with 3 petals and the leaves are spongy so they can float on the surface of the water. The root system hangs down into the water but rarely secures itself to the bottom. European Frog-Bit is a fast growing plant that becomes entwined with other vegetation and frog-bit roots to create a dense mat on the surface of the water. It restricts fishing and waterfowl hunting. It hinders the movement of big fish and diving ducks because there is not enough space, between the plants, for them to get through. It obstructs boating by tangling around boat propellers so the boat cannot move. It limits other recreational uses of waterways and can block drainage canals and streams. European Frog-Bit reproduces mainly by turions, which are buds. A single plant can produce 100-150 turions in a season. The turion breaks off and sinks to the bottom where it lies dormant during the winter. In the spring, it rises to the surface and begins to  grow. These turions can also break off and stow away on boats, trailers and equipment. If not properly cleaned, it can be transported to and can infect a new body of water. Always CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY your boat, trailer and equipment before entering a new body of water to prevent the  spread of this invasive species. Funding for this project has been  provided by MISGP (Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program). 


Western Peninsula Invasives Coalition

The western Peninsula Invasives Coalition formerly known as  the Western Upper Peninsula Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area, was formed in 2006 when fourteen organizations that were interested in controlling non-native species, came together to cover the Iron County, Gogebic County and the Ottawa National Forest. Gaining partners as we worked, in 2010 we added Ontonagon County and changed the name. We have gained many more partners as the years have passed and the control of non-native species has become a growing priority. WePIC Partners cover over 2.6 million acres, including over 700 lakes and 150 public boat launches. We cover all of Gogebic County, Iron County, Ontonagon County and the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan. We work with counties, local government and private landowners. Our goal is to control what is already here and to prevent further spread into our area. By cooperating together, we can share resources and expertise across ownership and political boundaries to more efficiently manage invasive species.   


WePIC Partners

Bass Lake Association, Beaton Lake Riparian Association, Bergland Township, Bewabic State Park, Chicagon Lake Association, Cisco Chain Riparian Owners Association, Duck Lake Nuisance Aquatics, Fortune Lake Landowners, Friends of Ice Lake (FOIL), Gogebic Conservation District, Gogebic County Forestry and Parks Commission, Golden Lake Association,  Hagerman Lake Property Owners Association, Invasive Species Control Coalition of Watersmeet (ISCCW Lake Guards), Iron Baraga Conservation District, Iron County Watershed Coalition, Iron Lake Property Owners Association, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac Vieux Desert Lake Association, Lake Gogebic Improvement Association, Lake Gogebic State Park, Lake Mary Association, Langford Lake Riparian Owners Association, Long Lake Property Owners Association, Many Waters LLC, Maplewood Timberland Assn., Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment (Mi-TRALE), Ottawa National Forest, Perch Lake OwnersAssociation, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Runkle Lake Association, Sunset Lake Association, Swan Lake Owners Association, Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation & Development Council (UPRC&D), USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, USFS United States Forest Service, White Water Associates Inc., Wintergreen Farm  


Clean Boats Clean Waters


Stop aquatic invasive species from spreading

Do you appreciate being able to swim in the waters of our local lakes without cutting your feet on zebra mussels and quagga mussels? Do you appreciate taking your boat out on to a lake and not having to fight European Frogbit and Eurasian Watermilfoil? Programs such as Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW) helps teach people and train volunteers about aquatic invasive species and how to keep them out of our local waters. 


Michigan Law

Michigan law prohibits placing a boat, trailer or equipment in Michigan waters if aquatic plants are attached (MI Public Act 91 of 2009).

Look for the Iron Baraga Conservation District portable boatwasher at local lakes in Iron and Baraga counties during the fishing/boating season.  A trained CBCW staff member will show you how to check your boat for invasives, then wash it, free of charge.  


Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose

CLEAN-boats, trailers and equipment

DRAIN-live wells, bilges and all water

DRY-boats and equipment

DISPOSE-of unwanted bait in the trash