bill bans nonnative plants
Planned legislation is part of initiative to protect Great
April 29, 2004
LANSING — A variety of nonnative plants that could hurt
Michigan aquatic wildlife and vegetation would be banned
from delivery or sale under legislation scheduled to be
introduced this spring in the state Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, has updated
proposals to aid the Great Lakes. Among the proposals
would be a ban on selling or delivering more than a dozen
types of plants.
The proposal would be part of an update on the Great
Lakes Task Force initiative, which has already led to
a state ban on the sale and delivery of some nonnative
“The single biggest challenge to the Great Lakes continues
to be nonnative species,” Sikkema said. “Something has
got to be done.”
Sikkema again asked Congress to strictly regulate ballast
water discharge in the Great Lakes. The water, which is
held in tanks of ships coming to and from the Great Lakes
region from overseas, is considered to be a prime way
for invasive species to move into the region.
The ban on sale and delivery of plants would include
some species that already have a foothold in Michigan,
including the purple loosestrife, an attractive but potent
vegetation that chokes out other species growing in wetlands.
Loosestrife already is banned from sale in Michigan,
but the Senate proposal would expand on current law, Senate
Republicans say. The legislation will include penalties
and establish ways to enforce the ban.
Most of the plants on the list would be addressed in
state law for the first time.
One plant on the list is the Eurasian watermilfoil, which
can form thick mats of vegetation on lake bottoms and
interfere with boating and swimming.
Two of the plants — the yellow floating heart and the
Brazilian elodea — are common for water plant gardens
or aquariums. Both have the potential to flourish and
clog areas used for swimming or boating.
The parrot’s feather, another popular aquatic garden
plant, can alter the aquatic food chain and serve as prime
habitat for mosquito larvae.
Other plants on the potential banned list are the African
oxygen weed, curly leaf pondweed, European frogbit, flowering
rush, giant salvinia, hydrilla, Japanese knotweed, water
chestnut and yellow flag iris.
State action alone won’t solve the problem of invasive
species. Experts say it will take a combination of federal,
state and individual actions to keep the Great Lakes safe
from aquatic invaders.
“It is one piece of a much larger approach that is needed
to control these species,” said Doug Landis, a Michigan
State University entomologist who has studied controlling
purple loosestrife with a type of beetle that eats its