Bikes & barberry

Groups take on invasive species removal at BLP Rocks trail

Volunteer Amy Frieden gets barbarous, using a pair of gardening shears on overgrowth of barberry near the BLP Rocks trail. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

MARQUETTE– Noquemanon Trail Network and Marquette County Conservation District staff members and community volunteers spent Thursday evening removing a large patch of thorny, invasive barberry from the Marquette Board of Light and Power Rocks Trail. Japanese barberry, a popular landscaping plant, has become invasive to the Upper Peninsula.

“It produces these berries that birds like to eat. Once birds fly out of your backyard and into wooded areas, they distribute the seeds and it can just really take over a forest floor

and pushes out a lot of the native plants,” said Elise Desjarlais, Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas Coordinator.

The Noquemanon Trail Network and the NTN Single Track specifically partnered with the MCCD to work on the invasive species issues on their trail system.

“We had discovered that there was more than we thought, so we turned to the professionals and have had a really good partnership with them,” said NTN single track trail steward Jeremiah Johnston.

The plant affects not only the health of the native plant species but also human health. According to Desjarlais, barberry provides a great environment for deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease.

Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas coordinator Elise Desjarlais clips branches from a barberry plant. The Marquette County Conservation District and the Noquemanon Trail Network partnered with staff members and volunteers to start removing a large patch of thorny, invasive barberry from the trail. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

“Our concern is not just for the native habitat, but it’s a health concern for people to make sure we are not providing ticks with a really good habitat to proliferate and be all over the place — nobody wants that,” Desjarlais said.

Desjarlais suggests a few ways that anyone can participate in slowing the spread of invasive species populations. She encourages everyone to learn how to identify barberry, report it to the local conservation district office and to start using native plant species when landscaping their home or business.

“There are a lot of really cool native options out there that still give that really decorative appeal,” Desjarlais said.

The MCCD and the NTN will host future removal events. No dates have been announced yet, but Johnston recommends that anyone interested in volunteering at the next event follow the NTN Single Track page on Facebook.

Pictured is a branch of Japanese barberry. As discribed on Michigan.gov, Japanese barberry tolerates a wide range of soils and moisture conditions and can thrive in sun or shade. It is often found in forests, pastures and old fields and along woodland edges, roadsides and disturbed areas. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)