Invasive species muscle into governor's 2014 agenda

The governor said he wants to take action to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Battling invasive species within the state is on Governor Rick Snyderâ??s agenda.

In his State of the State address Thursday night, Snyder said Michigan has been a leader in â??loving our environmentâ?? and that leadership needs to continue.

Members of the MSU Extension office in Traverse City said they were grateful to hear the governor addressing the issues theyâ??re working on.

â??Itâ??s good to hear the governor talking about trying to add a few state resources into this multi-year battle to keep these things out of the Great Lakes,â?? said Mark Breederland, an educator with MSUâ??s Sea Grant Extension.

Keeping Asian carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes takes help from state and federal leaders as well as Canadian leaders.

Asian carp could make their way into the Great Lakes through Chicago's canals.

Breederland said the carp are large fish, but they don't end up on fishing lines. They actually feed on phytoplankton at the bottom of the lake, which could put a wrench in the freshwater ecosystem.

â??They'd have a real negative impact on our economy, tourism, our boating industry. So we really don't want these things to be here. We want to fight them for as long as we can,â?? Breederland explained.

Governor Snyder also talked about a relatively new invasive specie the state needs to be on the watch for: the Asian long-horned beetle. The borer attacks healthy hardwood trees.

Snyder said Thursday night that the state canâ??t wait. â??We need to do something now.â?? Entomologist Duke Elsner with the MSU Extension agreed.

â??Normally we find out about our invasives too late,â?? said Elsner. â??If we deal with this before it gets to the borders of Michigan, it's so much better than what happened with other insects that have come and been big problems.â??

Elsner said the beetle can grow to almost two inches long. Staff at any MSU Extension office can help identify the bug. If you think you've come across one of these Asian beetles, bring it to them.

If you'd like to hear more about the effort to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp, there's a conference being held at the Haggerty center next Thursday. It runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is open to the public.