Nov. 22 2019 09:21 AM

Company provided its staff with in-depth training about the region’s destructive plants.

A landscape company in Grand Traverse County, Michigan, has received recognition for its efforts to help stop the spread of invasive plant species, according to an article by the Manistee News-Advocate. The company, Old Mission Associates LLC, was awarded Gold Level Achievement status by The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network within its Go Beyond Beauty program. The status was bestowed on the company because of the in-depth invasive-species training it provided for its staff.

Old Mission Associates is the first professional landscaping business in the region to achieve this status.

In early October, 10 staff members from OMA, guided by lead landscape designer Bob Dompierre, participated in an all-day training that covered everything from plant identification to decontamination and best management practices.

ISN provided education about invasive species to avoid and which ones are spreading north. They also conducted hands-on demonstrations of removal methods. By the end, OMA staffers were well-versed in on-the-ground techniques helpful to ISN’s mission of combating terrestrial invasive species in northwest Michigan.

When ISN first started Go Beyond Beauty, its goal was simple — recruit local green industry professionals, including landscapers and nurseries, who will commit to neither planting nor selling high-priority invasive species. Many plants targeted by ISN are still readily sold and are even in high demand from consumers. Japanese barberry, prized for its deer resistance, is one example.

These sales serve as a major roadblock when trying to manage invasive species. An expansion of GBB several years ago allowed for the participation of anyone who wanted to commit to the original mission. This made the program available to everyone from garden clubs to private homeowners, whoever was responsible for making landscaping decisions. Twenty-one regional landscapers and nurseries have also made the commitment to not sell or use invasive species.

ISN wanted to recognize OMA for taking the additional step of conducting the in-depth training session and blazing the trail for green industry professionals who realize they play a key role in invasive species management.

Anyone interested in learning more about Go Beyond Beauty or its achievement program should visit ISN’s website, www.habitatmatters.org.

The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network is a collaboration of more than 60 organizations in the region. It was established in 2005 as a cooperative weed management area through the U.S. Forest Service. ISN’s mission is to protect, enhance and promote northwest Michigan’s natural communities through terrestrial invasive plant management and outreach.