Van Buren Conservation District


SWxSW Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA)

The SW x SW Corner CISMA is a grant funded program that covers Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties in Southwest Michigan. The CISMA works to preserve natural ecosystem functions through the responsible management of invasive species on a landscape scale. In order to achieve this, the primary focus of the project is mapping & surveying invasive species populations, education, and maintaining a strategic plan to properly manage and eradicate invasive species.

An invasive species is one that is not native and whose introduction causes harm, or is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment and human health. Species like poison ivy or Virginia creeper may not be our favorites, but they are native to Michigan, and play an important part in our environment!

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Contact Alex Florian, Invasive Species Coordinator, to help with identification, reporting, and proper management by calling 269-633-9044 or emailing

Berrien Conservation District Open House

Join us as the Berrien Conservation District holds its first ever “Conservation Open House” on Wednesday, March 30th, 2022 from 5pm to 8pm, at Countryside Academy, 4800 Meadowbrook Road, Benton Harbor, MI 49022. This event is free, and light snacks and beverages will be available. Questions about this event can be directed to the Berrien County District Manager at 269-471-9111 x3.
The Public is invited to come meet the staff and ask questions to the conservation district and over one dozen other organizations. Participating organizations include: Berrien County Farm Bureau, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Chikaming Open Lands, West Michigan Sustainable Business, Berrien County Parks, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Friends of the St. Joseph River, Two Rivers Coalition, Sarett Nature Center, MSU Extension, Harbor Country Hikers, National Grape Cooperative, Countryside FFA, Friends of Berrien County Trails, Michigan Department of Natural Resources/Warren Dunes, and the SWxSW Corner CISMA.

SWxSW Corner CISMA Annual Meeting

The SWxSW Corner CISMA is inviting partners and the community to join our 2023 annual meeting. Join us in person at the Pokagon Band Community Center or virtually on Zoom.

It will be a great opportunity to meet your local invasive species education and management team, learn about our programs, and tell us about how invasive species impact you.

We are excited to feature Matt Meersman from the St. Joseph River Basin Commission as our keynote speaker to discuss “Hazards Invasive Species Pose to Public Infrastructure.”

  • Thursday January 12th, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
  • Pokagon Band Community Center, 27043 Potawatomi Trail, Dowagiac, MI
  • Free event with lunch provided

Please RSVP by January 6 by clicking here or contacting CISMA Coordinator Alex Florian at or calling 269-633-9044

Mitigating Impacts of Early Species through Consistent Management

Through the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, the SWxSW Corner CISMA can provide management of the high priority invasive plants, Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) and Kudzu (Pueraria montana), at no cost to the property owner.

There is currently one known population of Stiltgrass, and five known populations of Kudzu in Southwest Michigan. Management of these species is ongoing, and we are committed to the eradication of these species from our service area. For more information regarding these species and their identification, see the Stiltgrass or Kudzu profile on the Michigan Invasive Species Information Network website. If you know of locations where these plants can be found, please contact the Strike Team Coordinator, Abbie Bristol, by emailing or texting photos and details or by phone (269-633-9058) with questions.

Monitoring the Prohibited Aquatic Plant, Parrot Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)

The SWxSW Corner CISMA is collaborating with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to regularly monitor known Southwest Michigan populations of Parrot Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum), a high-priority invasive aquatic plant that is new to Michigan.

This plant was brought to the United States as an aquatic ornamental plant, but can now be found in lakes and ditches with slow-moving water. It creates dense mats of vegetation that can interfere with recreation and creates habitat for mosquito larvae. When a piece of the plant breaks off, it easily spreads to new lakes on the wings of a bird, the paddle of a kayak, or the rotor of a boat. Parrot feather is listed on the Michigan Prohibited Aquatic Plant List and should therefore not be moved off-site if it is found. If you think you’ve seen this species, contact the EGLE Aquatic Invasive Species Program at or 517-284-5593, or report the plant using the MISIN app or website.

Outreach Events and Community Support

The SWxSW Corner CISMA is here to help you learn more about invasive species. We:

  • host educational events to teach about Michigan’s Watch List Species
  • lead Hike and Paddle with a Naturalist events to show how and where invasive plants grow
  • help connect residents with best management practices for invasive plants
  • provide trainings on invasive species mapping and management for road commissions, drain commissions, contractors, and municipalities

Have you seen a plant, animal, or insect that seems to be invasive? Snap a good picture or two and shoot us an email at — we’re happy to help with identification!

Target Species

Report Invasive Species

Invasive species are easiest to manage when they are first introduced, since it is much easier to mange just a few plants, instead of acres of them. Because of this, Early Detection is key to protecting our resources! We lean on partners, residents, and citizen scientists to help report emerging species, since they see far more of the county than the CISMA ever will. When you spot invasive species, we encourage you to report them using MISIN!

MISIN, the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network, is program through MSU to help identify and map invasive species throughout the area. Using either the website or the phone app, you can report invasive species locations for managers and municipalities. Or, visit the website to look at what has been reported in your area!

Additional Resources

*If you think you have an invasive species in your body of water, please contact the SWxSW Corner CISMA Coordinator by calling 269-633-9044 or emailing