In 2017, the Association of State Wetland Managers received a Cooperative Agreement Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program to organize and host a mini webinar series on best management practices for invasive species management in wetlands in coastal areas of the country. Special attention was paid to ecosystem service provision and the diverse strategies that may be employed to manage or eradicate an invasive species based on the species, region of the U.S. where it is located, and considerations associated with climate change.  

Managing Invasive Species in the Great Lakes: Establishing Goals & Objectives, Monitoring Programs, and Cooperative Management Areas in Michigan

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 3:00 p.m. ET 


  • Gregory J. Norwood, Michigan Department of Natural Resources 
  • Dr. Don Uzarski, Central Michigan University
  • Ryan Wheeler, Michigan Department of Natural Resources


Gregory J. Norwood

Beyond weed control: Establishing ecosystem goals, objectives, and desired outcomes for degraded coastal wetlands

Invasive plant removal is usually an integral part of coastal wetland restoration projects, sometimes at a relatively high cost. While there is acceptance of the biodiversity loss associated with invasive plants such as reed (Phragmites australis) and narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia and T. x glauca), managers are ultimately responsible for considering trade-offs of various intervention strategies. This talk describes the importance of establishing ecosystem goals and objectives to achieve specific conservation outcomes before invasive species control efforts begin so that decisions about trade-offs become easier. Examples from western Lake Erie will reveal a wide range of desired outcomes because of various local constraints such as the nature of the surrounding landscape. Desired conservation outcomes are more likely to be achieved if there is clear linkage between invasive species removal and the stated project goals and objectives. Removal of invasive species always involves difficult trade-offs; however, practitioners frequently monitor acres treated instead of the overall impacts of control projects in achieving their conservation goals.

Dr. Don Uzarski

Monitoring multiple biological attributes in the Great Lakes coastal wetlands: database access for invasive species management

Since European settlement, over 50% of Laurentian Great Lakes coastal wetlands have been lost, causing growing concern by government agencies. To facilitate information sharing between public, private, and government agencies throughout the basin, we developed standardized methods and indicators used for assessing wetland condition. Using an ecosystem approach, birds, anurans, fish, macroinvertebrates, vegetation, and physicochemical conditions were sampled in coastal wetlands of all five Great Lakes, US and Canada. Our primary objective was to implement a standardized basin-wide monitoring program that would be a powerful tool to inform coastal wetland conservation and restoration priorities throughout the basin.

Ryan Wheeler

Creating and empowering cooperative invasive species management areas across Michigan with multi-scaled support networks.

The challenges associated with Invasive Species Management span geo-political boundaries, property ownership boundaries, and even human values. In order to overcome these challenges, it can be beneficial to view individual invasive species problems as part of a much bigger picture. Regional Cooperative Invasive Species efforts are a practical implementation of this “big picture” mindset. This presentation will cover recent efforts to create and empower Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas across all of Michigan. It will also cover several networks that continue to provide critical support and value to these groups at local, state, and basin-wide scales.


Greg J. Norwood serves as Invasive Species Coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Wildlife Division. Previously, he was a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge where he was involved in forming the Detroit River-Western Lake Erie Cooperative Weed Management Area which includes some of the “weediest” natural areas in the state. Most of his work involved a variety of natural area projects, including adding land to the Refuge, prescribed fire, ecological inventories, wetland impoundment management, transitioning agricultural fields to other habitat, facilitating public use, and prescribed fire. Currently, he assists the Division and partners with decisions and strategy surrounding invasive species. 

Dr. Don Uzarski, CMU Professor of Biology, serves as the Director of CMU’s Institute for Great Lakes Research and Biological Station on Beaver Island, MI. He is a limnologist and aquatic ecologist with a focus on measures of ecosystem health of Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

Uzarski leads a 10-year $20 million Great Lakes coastal wetland-monitoring program for the US EPA. He can speak to a wide range of topics including human impacts on waterways, indicators of ecosystem health, pollution and runoff and the overall health of the Great Lakes. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts, most of which have been wetlands related. His work has been cited in scientific journals over 1200 times.

Ryan Wheeler is the Invasive Species Biologist for Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, Forest Resources and Wildlife Divisions. Ryan works on many aspects of comprehensive invasive species management, with an emphasis on building and strengthening collaborative partnerships. Some of Ryan’s key responsibilities include serving as technical contact for projects funded by Michigan’s invasive species grant program and leading a multi-agency committee working on decontamination policy and recommendations for preventing the spread of invasive species in Michigan. Ryan also serves on the boards of the Michigan Wetland Association and the Midwest Invasive Plant Network. 


Past Invasive Species Webinars