An extensive, volunteer-based survey for purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) will be coordinated by Wisconsin Wetlands Association in fifteen coastal counties this summer. The distribution and extent of infestation of this invasive plant species have not been surveyed for 15 years. With a grant from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, WWA has been locating coordinators in each of the Great Lakes counties to help coordinate and publicize the surveys. Lake associations and Audubon chapters, 4-H groups and scout troops, garden clubs and civic organizations, are all being contacted for this massive volunteer effort. Evening workshops for interested survey participants will be held in each county in July, prior to the field surveys planned for August. Participants will be assigned portions of their county to survey, and will be asked to fill out specially-designed data sheets. The data will be entered into a statewide GIS database maintained by the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), where it can be accessed by anyone via their website (www.glifwc-maps.org).
Once infestations are identified, WWA will host a series of fall workshops in targeted areas to train volunteer “cooperators”, including teachers, in bio-control techniques under the state’s purple loosestrife bio-control program. Cooperators will be provided materials and a starter population of Galerucella beetles, the European insect that eats purple loosestrife leaves and flower buds, and is host-specific to the plant. The workshops will also provide teachers with an introduction to our Teacher’s Guidebook to Purple Loosestrife Biological Control, a set of 15 activities that WWA developed with a group of teachers last summer, and due to be published by the DNR this year.
For more information about the forthcoming purple loosestrife project in Wisconsin, contact the Wisconsin Wetlands Association: (608) 250-9971, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.