EMPIRE, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore may be dismayed to find that a portion of the park is closed due to invasive species damage, and there are no plans to reopen until the fall.

What area is closed?

The area closed, including the old Indian Trail, and surrounding area, as the staff began to treat trees that the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid had infested.

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The presence of the small white cotton masses poses a statewide concern as the bug has been found in more than half a dozen counties, and is home to an estimated 170 million eastern hemlock trees.

“The hemlock woolly adelgid sucks sap from hemlock needles, killing needles, shoots and branches,” according to Michigan Invasive Species. “Infested hemlocks become less vigorous and may turn grayish-green. Left untreated, hemlock woolly adelgid can cause tree death in 4-10 years.”

Why the closure?

Part of the concern stems from how easily the species can be transferred to new areas.

“Hemlock Woolly Adelgid can be moved from tree to tree by birds, other wildlife, the wind, and on gear, equipment, clothing, infested nursery stock or other hemlock materials,” according to Michigan Invasive Species. “Hemlock Woolly Adelgid can be moved when infested branches are trimmed and disposed of, and also by vehicles or equipment brushing against infested branches.”

Invasive species projects receive grant money.

On Friday, for the 10th Anniversary of the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, more than two dozen projects received $3.6 million in grant money to address nearly 270 projects. Among them, is special attention to prevent further Hemlock Woolly Adelgid spread.

What are the main objectives of the grants?

The main objectives of the grants, according to the Michigan Invasive Species Program, include:

  • Preventing the introduction of new invasive species.
  • Strengthening the statewide invasive species early detection and response network.
  • Limiting the spread of recently confirmed invasive species.
  • Managing and controlling widespread, established invasive species.

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“Over the last 10 years, the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program has helped to build and sustain a statewide network of cooperative invasive species management areas, which fight invasive species in their local communities,” said DNR Director Scott Bowen. “Grant-funded projects have increased public awareness and reporting of invasive species and supported a robust early detection and response program. This helps limit the introduction and spread of plants, animals and diseases that threaten the quality of Michigan’s land and water.”

Of the priorities highlighted by the Michigan Invasive Species Program, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid took up more than half. Some of the fight lies in:

  • Continuing survey and treatment of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid along the northern edge of the infestation in Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • Conducting surveys for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Upper Peninsula.
  • Evaluating current chemical treatment methods for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and assessing a potential nonchemical approach to managing the invasive insect.

How can Michiganders help report encounters?

The Michigan Invasive Species Department encourages residents to take photos and note the location before reaching out to MDA-Info@michigan.gov or using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.