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Great Lakes Article:

Senate bill bans nonnative plants
Planned legislation is part of initiative to protect Great Lakes
Associated Press
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 fish.

“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 foliage.


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