Residents and neighbors of Macomb County love our beautiful parks and access to natural resources. In fact, we hear time and again how much they enjoy the opportunities for kayaking, fishing, boating, biking, hiking, running, swimming or simply getting outdoors with family and friends. To ensure these opportunities remain accessible and to expand recreation in the future, a dedicated team of professionals work behind-the-scenes to manage resources and plan for what’s next.
The Lake St. Clair Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (LSC CISMA) and the Six Rivers Conservancy are two parts of that team and recently, the pair announced the receipt of $120,000 in grants from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program. Plans for that funding included hiring a local CISMA coordinator for the region that will work on a very important issue: addressing invasive species. During 2018, the Lake St. Clair CISMA and its partners successfully managed over 1,000 acres of invasive species. Phragmites alone accounted for over 500 of those acres. The remaining acres featured Garlic Mustard, Dames Rocket, Parrot feather Watermilfoil, Curlyleaf Pondweed and invasive shrubs. In 2019, the CISMA plans to continue Phragmites treatments along road right-of-ways in Macomb County and pending additional funding, they hope to expand their control efforts to county drains using multiple control methods.
That’s certainly a lot to tackle, but McKenzi Bergmoser, the LSC CISMA coordinator hired through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program money, is up to the challenge.
“I’m thrilled to be part of the efforts to control invasive species in the Lake St. Clair region,” she said. “By coordinating our efforts, municipalities and nonprofits can share best management practices and gain an economy of scale.”
Today’s MMYH blog features a Q and A with McKenzi where she discusses her new role, the work she will do in the Lake St. Clair region and her passion for the environment.
Q: Tell us about your role as CISMA coordinator. What projects do you work on and what do you hope to accomplish?
A: My role as CISMA coordinator is to work together with local governments, nonprofits and volunteers to cooperatively detect, map, control and monitor invasive species populations. The LSC CISMA also works to build public awareness, advocacy and participation in programs that control invasive species and their movements into and throughout the LSC CISMA. I hope to grow CISMA membership and support, increase capacity to survey and control invasive species and generate public awareness on the negative ecological and economic impacts these species impose.
Q: Do you have any previous experience in the field?
A: Having a background in ecological restoration allows me to extend first-hand knowledge from the field into CISMA coordination. I’m also well-served by my degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan.
Q: It sounds like your job requires you to have a passion for the environment as well as preservation. Is that the case for you? If so, what sparked that?
A: Having a passion for the environment motivates me to act in certain ways throughout my life, not only my work-life. As animals ourselves, I feel we all have some level of passion or desire for preserving the environment; whether it be through land stewardship, admiring a hawk flying above or just appreciating the vast amount of recreational, economic and vital resources the environment provides. There isn’t an exact moment that sparked my interest in the natural world, but rather an accumulation of respect gathered over years.
Q: What outdoor activities do you enjoy? What are your favorite outdoor spaces/parks here in Macomb?
A: I enjoy all outdoor activities but I especially like backpacking, kayaking, gardening and taking my dog on walks through local parks. A great place to visit in Macomb and escape into nature is the Nicholson Nature Center.
Q: In your opinion, what makes Macomb County outdoor spaces/parks/recreation so special?
A: Macomb County outdoor spaces are special because they allow for numerous parks, trail systems and wildlife corridors that provide outdoor recreation in an urban setting.
Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.