WAKEFIELD — John Diddams of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development spoke on invasive species Tuesday at the Wakefield Loggers Jamboree.
Diddams said that one of the biggest issues in Gogebic County is giant hogweed, which is a hazard to humans. It can cause blistering, burning and scarring; and children in England have gone blind from using the large stalks as ‘telescopes.’
Gogebic County is the largest giant hogweed site in Michigan. It looks a lot like cow parsnip, “but on steroids,” said Diddams.
The stem of giant hogweed is two to four inches in circumference and the leaves have purple edges, which are jagged. It can reach a height of 10-15 feet. This plant can be found on old homesteads, and in yards, Diddams said.
Loggers and others who see this plant should use caution, as it is dangerous. Workers removing plants need to wear full body protective suits.
The emerald ash borer is another invasive species in the U.P., although it is mainly in the eastern part of the peninsula, as well as Keweenaw and Houghton counties. It is spread by transferring firewood and moving plants. Diddams said nurseries no longer distribute ash stock due to this pest.
Fifty-two loggers attended Tuesday’s training held at the Wakefield VFW.
The jamboree was sponsored by the Michigan Forest Products Council. The event offered four continuing education credits for loggers to maintain their credentials to help them secure contracts with the government, said Scott Robinson, of the Michigan Forest Products Council.
The majority of ongoing training for loggers is about environmental protection, said Robinson, who promotes these learning opportunities across the state for the logging industry.
Other speakers included Brett Peterson of the SAPPI paper mill in Cloquet, Minn., and Dave Anderson of Orvana Resources.