Leelanau News and Events

Go Beyond Beauty Program Prevents The Sale And Use Of Invasive Species -- One Garden At A Time

March 29, 2021

Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) is expanding its Go Beyond Beauty (GBB) program statewide, with the goal of developing partnerships with garden professionals to stop the sale and use of high-priority invasive ornamental species and educate the public to change demand.

Since its development, the program has had a regional focus within ISN’s service area of Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Manistee Counties. Over time, it has changed to include achievement levels for nurseries and landscapers although it remains free at a basic level. Additionally, to be more inclusive and to celebrate all sustainable gardening decisions, the program was recently opened to community members who also wanted to commit to not using high-priority invasive species in their own landscape.

Approximately 90 percent of the species on ISN’s top least wanted species list were originally introduced as ornamentals for gardens. While some of those species are now illegal to sell and move in Michigan (Japanese knotweed and purple loosestrife, for example) others are still actively being sold (Japanese barberry and baby’s breath, among others). When the invasives get introduced to a landscape, they can then easily spread to nearby natural areas, crowding out important native plant species and minimizing habitat for wildlife – including pollinators.

Introducing Go Beyond Beauty statewide an opportunity to expand partnerships, reach new garden professionals, and ultimately, reduce the number of invasive species being sold and introduced into landscapes.

Shelly Stusick, ISN’s Go Beyond Beauty specialist, is working with other staff members and an advisory committee composed of regional and statewide stakeholders to finalize plans before the official launch – hopefully coming later this fall. Meanwhile, the program is still going strong in ISN’s service area (including here in Leelanau County).

ISN is hosting its virtual Go Beyond Beauty spring meeting on Wednesday, April 7 at 4pm. Anyone with an interest in making sustainable landscape decisions is encouraged to attend. Garden professionals and community members will hear details on the expansion, learn about GBB specific events planned for this summer (like an opportunity to get nursery coupons in exchange for bringing ISN your Japanese barberry), and have an opportunity to see if this program is a good fit for your business or personal landscape.

More information about Go Beyond Beauty can be found on ISN’s website. Register for the April 7 meeting here.

Pictured: Tossing invasive Japanese barberry; the Go Beyond Beauty garden at Camp Arcadia

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