The beetle battle against purple loosestrife that began in May of 2007 continues in May of 2011. Like with so many non native invasive species “control” is all we have to work with. In this case that is the good news, because in so many others we have no control at all or if we do it is a chemical control. But we need to work to keep the news good and the invader under control. I want to share a little of what I have learned from this effort over the past four years. First that there are always some folks ready and willing to get involved on a worthy project. Absolutely great and I thank each and every person and organization for their effort! One thing that had me wondering almost from the beginning is if the control is so good why is it I can go back every year to some of my original sources for beetles for more beetles. I remember going back to one very infested spot one year to gather some beetles and there were absolutely none to be found or purple loosestrife. The only variable I noticed was that when there is around a foot of water the Loosestrife is growing in the beetles were not very effective but beetles are generally there. When there is little water or at a shore line the beetles were effective and not there the next year. The good news from this is I/we can always get beetles for spreading around. Why would that be because in most cases the beetles we place effectively reducing the infestation allowing native plants to regain their natural strength? I contacted an expert at MSU and shared what I am experiencing and found that is their experience too. It has something to do with the winter hibernation of the beetle and I’m not sure hibernation is the correct term but I suspect you understand what I mean. It is important to understand and remember that this beetle eats absolutely nothing else so eats itself out of house and home. So here we go again in May 2011 spreading the Purple Loosestrife control beetle Gallerucella calmariensis, and volunteers are the key again. This program has lots of […]
Rogue River Watershed Council
by BETH ALTENA One family’s dedication to protecting the land and their generous spirit is good news for all in Rockford. The Cok family has preserved 126 acres of property along the Rogue River as a conservation easement through the Land Conservancy of West Michigan—an action that ensures the property will never be developed. Stu Cok was one of the speakers at the annual meeting of the Rogue River Watershed Council (RRWC) and spoke before the group at the Rockford Community Cabin on Wednesday, Dec. 1, describing why a nature easement was the right choice for his family and their land. Cok said land has been important to him since he was a child in the Great Depression and was in seven schools in three years. As a young man just out of service in the Marine Corps, he drove around Kent County looking for waterfront property. He was determined to find his own homestead and stay put. “I bought the land in 1953,” he said of his property on the Rogue River downstream of Sparta. Property prices actually slowed the timeline and size of the easement, Cok noted. The easement allows the Cok family to be compensated for some of the value of the land, but with property prices so low it was difficult to get an estimate. “While we felt it was important to protect the land with a conservation easement for a multitude of reasons, here are just a few that stand out,” Cok stated. Cok described the importance of land for his family as well as himself. “We built our home here in 1964 and all of our children, and now our grandchildren, have grown up on the land. We feel that all of us have been able to form a close relationship with the natural world here, and preserving its natural beauty was very important to us.” “Also, while we have contemplated developing small portions of the land in the past, we have come to the conclusion that even minimal development would do irreparable harm to the beauty and natural values that we hold dear. These forests and wetlands drain into a valley, creating a tributary stream, which flows into the mainstream of the Rogue River, all on our land. […]
The Rogue River Watershed Council held its annual meeting at Rockford’s Community Cabin in early 2010, continuing its efforts to protect the watershed and goals to improve educational opportunities for the public and municipalities along the watershed’s domain. Janice Thompkins of the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources and member of the Rogue River Watershed Council (RRWC) gave an overview of what the watershed is to the members of the public who turned out for the meeting. “When the well is dry, we know the value of water,” she quoted Benjamin Franklin on the importance of protecting our water sources and waterways. “It is so true we too often wait to late to protect our wetlands,” she said, calling wetlands the kidneys of any watershed. She discussed specifically Stegman and Cedar Creek, which provide much of the cold water that makes Rogue River the unique body of water it is and stressed the importance of protecting these feeder streams, and others like them. “They are interrelated, interdependent and interconnected,” she said. During the meeting, the RRWC members asked the audience to provide feedback on issues within the Rogue River Watershed and answered questions. The RRWC has been in existence for several years and is interested in growing membership as well as offering educational opportunities on watershed and wetlands issues. They meet monthly in Rockford. For more information, visit online at www.gvsu.edu/wri/isc/rogue-river-watershed-project-the-rogue-river-watershed-council-186.htm.
By KIM SAPKOWSKI Secretary of the Rogue River Watershed Council The current economic environment is, to say the least, unpredictable. One thing is constant, however – nature. The changing seasons, day and night, and flowing rivers are unwavering. Knowing this keeps us grounded in an ever changing economic environment. The Rogue River provides its communities many economic benefits. Data provided by West Michigan Trout Unlimited and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality shows that in 2004, 17,239 angling trips were made to the river and fisherman spent an average of $35 per fishing trip to the Rogue River Watershed. That’s a yearly total of $603,365. What would we do if an area business failed and left the local economy with a $603,365 void? The Rogue River has been a source of food, water, and transportation for humans and animals for thousands of years. The river and its surrounding watershed were formed by glaciers around 12,000 years ago. Today the Rogue River has the distinction of being one of Michigan’s southern-most trout streams. It is known throughout the state and mid-west for being a clean trout stream located within 15 minutes of an urban center. Here it is quite possible to toss fishing gear into the car, dash out of work at 5:00 and have a line in the water by 5:30. When we protect and preserve the Rogue River, we generate income for our local economy by providing a clean and healthy river. Bait shops, canoe liveries, gas stations, and restaurants, just to name a few, benefit from people using the Rogue River. The social benefits are harder to measure yet just as valuable, and intermingle with the economic benefits. A stroll on the boardwalk along the river in Rockford, spying deer at the Rogue’s banks while canoeing in the quiet of early morning, kids splashing and catching minnows in the river on a bright summer day or steam rising from the ice-crusted river on a zero degree morning; these are only a few of the social benefits the Rogue River provides. Protecting and preserving the river doesn’t necessarily mean pumping money into initiatives. Rather it can mean doing something as obvious as not littering. Or, if you own property along the river, choosing to […]