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Creative ways to use fresh, summer ingredients

Summer’s flavors can be fleeting, so make culinary creations count by using the freshest ingredients in new ways.

Summer’s flavors can be fleeting, so make culinary creations count by using the freshest ingredients in new ways.

(StatePoint) In summer, the abundance of fresh ingredients can be overwhelming, especially if you stick to the same old recipes. Make more of the fresh produce available to you at the grocer, farmers market and even your own garden, by thinking creatively.

To help, the summer food experts at Betty Crocker are offering some great ideas for using fresh, seasonal produce.

1. Save the best berries for later.

Berry season is far too short. Make it last longer by freezing berries for the cooler months. Choose fruit at peak freshness, and then store it in high-quality freezer bags that seal tightly, removing as much excess air — fruit’s worst enemy — as possible before freezing. Label bags with the freeze date and remember: a full freezer is more efficient, so stock up!

2. Take advantage of fresh tomatoes.

If you have more fresh tomatoes than you know what to do with, consider these creative uses:

  • Caprese Salad. Layer sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella slices and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
  • Bruschetta. Served on small slices of toasted bread, bruschetta is a perfect appetizer for any dinner party.
  • No-Cook Pasta Sauce. Marinara sauce can be too heavy for summer, but a raw sauce showcasing fresh tomatoes is perfect. Try Rigatoni and Tomatoes for a great introduction.

3. Add a touch of sweetness to zucchini.

Managing the bounty of garden-fresh zucchini is always a challenge, so think beyond the main course. You can make the most out of the humble summer squash with baked treats like pineapple zucchini bread, zucchini bars and chocolate zucchini snack cake.

4. Bake with fresh berries.

Baking with fresh berries is one of the highlights of summertime. Favorite desserts that call for freshly picked strawberries, raspberries and blueberries include classics like fresh strawberry pie, but also inventive creations like brownies and berries dessert pizza and blueberry cheesecake bars.

5. Make pickles easy.

Preserving the summer bounty of cucumbers doesn’t mean you need to spend days canning. For a tasty shortcut, layer cucumber slices, onions and carrots in a glass container. Mix with sugar, vinegar, salt and dill weed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, but no longer than two weeks.

6. Make berries last with freezer jam.

Freezer jam is a smart way to hold on to summer’s fresh berries without the hassle of traditional jam. Try this recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam:

Mash 4 cups strawberries, until slightly chunky, to make 2 cups. Mix with 4 cups sugar in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix 3/4 cup water and one package powdered fruit pectin in 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Pour hot pectin mixture over strawberry mixture; stir constantly three minutes. Immediately spoon mixture into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims of containers; seal. Let stand at room temperature about 24 hours or until set. Store in freezer up to six months. Thaw and stir before serving.

More seasonal recipes and summer cooking tips can be found at BettyCrocker.com/summerfoods.

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West Michigan Hawks win big again 

S-West-Mich-hawks-vs-grizzlies

Improve to 4-0

By Shae Brophy

Saturday evening, the Hawks paid a visit to Vicksburg High School to square off with the Kalamazoo Grizzlies. After a 50-8 Hawks victory in the first matchup of the season, the Hawks took the field with plenty of confidence. Considering that the Grizzlies also guaranteed a victory this time around, the Hawks used the word “guarantee” as the mantra for this game.

After a bit of a sluggish start, the Hawks took a 3-0 lead on a 38-yard field goal by kicker Jacob Hardy. That score held until the end of the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, running back Eric Woodfork took a 15-yard run to the house for a touchdown, improving the score to 9-0. Wide receiver Monta Swanigan added to the lead later in the quarter with a 17-yard receiving touchdown, giving the Hawks a 15-0 lead at the half.

Quarterback Charles Manny Hodges rumbled his way into the end zone in the third quarter on a one-yard quarterback keeper, extending the lead to 21-0. The Grizzlies found the end zone for the only time of the evening on their next drive, returning an interception for a touchdown. After three quarters, the Hawks held a 21-6 lead.

The Hawks put the pedal to the medal in the fourth quarter. Swanigan pulled in his second touchdown of the game, a 22-yard pass, early in the quarter. Defensive end Rick Loper found the end zone after returning an interception the distance for a touchdown, and Swanigan scored his third touchdown of the game on the next Hawks possession. The Hawks’ defense also recorded a safety in the quarter. When all was said and done, the Hawks brought home a 45-6 victory.

Chaz Watford had an impressive day defensively, pulling in two interceptions, as well as breaking up another pass. In total, the Hawks forced seven turnovers (two interceptions for Watford, Loper interception, Court McSwain interception, Darnell Madison interception, Javon Welch interception, Nick Steimel interception), while they also had six turnovers of their own.

It was just another day at the office for Swanigan, who ripped off his second consecutive game with three receiving touchdowns.

Although West Michigan won big on the scoreboard, the Hawks were penalized for a total of 150 yards, including six personal foul penalties.

“We played a solid game,” said head coach David Lange. “We got off to a slow start, which has become somewhat of a trend, and is something that we need to work on. We also need to work on our consistency, but in the end, it’s hard to be too upset about a 45-6 victory.”

With the victory, the Hawks are now the only undefeated team remaining in the Minor Leauge Football Alliance’s “Big Eight” division.

The Hawks will enjoy the holiday weekend with a bye week, and will be in action again on July 9, when they make the trip to Battle Creek for a tilt with the Coyotes.

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Birds and bridges: Falcons banded at two Upper Peninsula sites

 

As an angry adult falcon swoops in, from left, DNR wildlife technicians Caleb Eckloff and Brad Johnson and DNR biologist John Depue work to remove peregrine falcon chicks from a nest box on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on June 17. (MDOT photo)

As an angry adult falcon swoops in, from left, DNR wildlife technicians Caleb Eckloff and Brad Johnson and DNR biologist John Depue work to remove peregrine falcon chicks from a nest box on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on June 17. (MDOT photo)

It’s been a good season for Upper Peninsula bridges and their resident raptors, with peregrine falcons at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge successfully hatching three chicks and the Portage Lake Lift Bridge between Houghton and Hancock seeing four hatchlings this spring.

At the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) installed two nest boxes in 2012, one each on the north and south bridge towers. A pair of falcons discovered the nesting site the next spring and has raised a total of 10 chicks there.

MDOT took precautions to shield the lift bridge nesting boxes from construction work—an $8.4 million upgrade and preventive maintenance project started in late 2014 and just wrapped up this spring. Screens were placed to keep the falcons from seeing workers in the bridge machinery rooms and efforts were made to minimize disturbances in the nest area. During construction, a webcam, viewable at http://pasty.com/nestbox.html, was also installed in cooperation with the Copper Country Audubon Society to allow people to watch nesting activity.

As DNR wildlife technician Caleb Eckloff looks on, DNR wildlife technician Brad Johnson holds a peregrine falcon chick during the banding process at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on June 17. (MDOT photo)

As DNR wildlife technician Caleb Eckloff looks on, DNR wildlife technician Brad Johnson holds a peregrine falcon chick during the banding process at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on June 17. (MDOT photo)

On the eastern end of the U.P., Karl Hansen, bridge engineer for the International Bridge Administration (IBA), reported that a pair of peregrine falcons successfully nested atop the bridge between the U.S. and Canada this spring, hatching three chicks.

The hatching is the culmination of an ongoing commitment by the IBA. Nest boxes for the peregrines have been installed since 2010 on both the U.S. and Canadian arches. Peregrines have been active at the International Bridge since 1999 but, before the nest boxes were installed, the falcons laid their eggs in gravel on the exposed pier top and there were unfortunate instances of eggs and chicks being blown off.

The same pair of adults has been returning to the U.S. side nest each year but, so far, none have taken up residence in the nest box at the Canadian arch. Hansen has counted 20 chicks hatched out of the nest boxes since they were installed.

The chicks at the Lift Bridge were banded by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) team on June 17, while the International Bridge birds were banded by a team on June 20. According to DNR wildlife biologist Kristie Sitar, color-coded bands attached to the legs of young birds allow scientists to track the movements, reproductive behavior and population growth of the falcons. DNR biologists have yet to confirm that birds banded at either bridge have gone on to breed elsewhere, but that’s not unusual.

“There are no records of where fledged birds from (the IBA) site have gone but that doesn’t mean they aren’t breeding someplace,” Sitar said of the IBA birds. “Oftentimes, birds aren’t uniquely identified at new sites for a few years.”

In addition to their leg bands, the peregrine chicks received names. Names are typically assigned by DNR and bridge staff involved in the banding. At the IBA, names were chosen to honor the struggles of current and former colleagues battling cancer. The males were called Jim and Cameron, while the lone female was named Cheryn. At the Lift Bridge, DNR and bridge staff chose to name the females Lynn and Spunky, while the males were dubbed Edgar and Scottie. The new peregrines at both bridges should be ready to leave the nest in another few weeks.

The peregrine falcon has been removed from the federal endangered species list, but is listed as an endangered species in Michigan, protected by state and federal law. Peregrines have adapted to city habitats, nesting on tall buildings, smokestacks and bridges around the world. Studies have found the birds in this region tend not to nest in the same area where they were hatched, but spread out across the Midwest.

Every nesting site is special. In 2015, there were only 34 active nest sites in the entire state, with 29 of them on artificial structures. Only two of the five natural sites were accessible for banding birds this year, so having boxes on accessible structures like the Lift Bridge and International Bridge helps the DNR follow the raptor’s comeback.

High-speed hunters capable of flying at 200 mph, the peregrines may help keep populations of nuisance pigeons under control. While researchers have found pigeons make up a relatively small portion of the falcon diet, the dangerous predators may play a role in frightening them away from bridges. Keeping pigeons away is seen as potentially saving MDOT and the IBA maintenance money down the line, as pigeon droppings can damage paint on metal bridge surfaces.

 

Fast facts:

  • A pair of peregrine falcons has successfully nested on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge again this year after completion of a major bridge repair project.
  • Another pair of the endangered falcons successfully nested on the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, where the birds have been returning for years.
  • The DNR banded four chicks at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and three at the International Bridge.

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Sand Lake 4th of July Celebration

Independence Day is a time to celebrate our freedom and Sand Lake has all the activities and events for a fun filled family weekend. Starting Thursday, June 30th through Monday, July 4th, 2016 come out and enjoy some of the great events including the Firemen’s Parade of Lights, Kiddies Day “The Spirit of Freedom” with Kids parade and activities, book sales, carnival rides, live music, die cast car races, a greased pig contest, antique car and tractor show, Grand Parade, demolition derby, bingo, FIREWORKS and MORE…

AmericanFlag-hometownhero

Download the Sand Lake 4th of July Celebration schedule below…

SandLake4thCelebration.pdf

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Coming soon — a new library

This rendering shows the new Cedar Springs Library building.

This rendering shows the new Cedar Springs Library building.

The building contractor will be chosen on Monday, June 27, which means building should begin sometime in July. The project is estimated to take 6-8 months, and cost just under $2 million.

The Library Board, Community Building Development Team (CBDT), and the City of Cedar Springs collaborated to make this lifelong dream come true. The vision of the Library Board, the drive of the CBDT, the support of City Council, and thousands of hours given by many people from our community, have made this extraordinary effort a reality.

One of the final approvals needed was from the DEQ. That approval came through this month. This had been a major hurdle because the Cedar Creek and attendant wet lands run through the ten-acre project site, now being referred to as the Heart of Cedar Springs, where the library building will be constructed.

Between Maple and Pine Streets, on the northwest side of town, ten acres is being developed, which will include the new library building, an amphitheater, a boardwalk along the Creek, with rain gardens and sculptures, a community building and a recreation/fitness center. Complementary to this Town Square development, the White Pine Trail and the North Country Trail will intersect right here in Cedar Springs.

N-Library2-and-heart-of-city

In The Post last fall, the Library Board announced a fundraising opportunity for people local to Cedar Springs. While several folks have already participated, there are still bricks—available in two sizes—4”x8” for a donation of $50 and 8”x8” for a donation of $100. Bricks will be engraved with the name or message of your choice and will be used to pave the walkways into and around the Library.

In addition, there are a very limited number of retaining wall blocks available for a donation of $1,000 each as well as capstones for a donation of $2,000 each.  Retaining wall blocks and capstones, about 36 inches high, will have an inset engraved metal plaque to recognize donors, as individuals, organizations, or businesses. The donation may also be in honor or in memory of someone.

Over $3,000,000 has already been raised towards the whole ten-acre project—the Heart of Cedar Springs. A good portion of those funds have been designated to the new library building, and unless otherwise designated, all donations will be directed to the Cedar Springs Community Library until it is completely and totally funded. At that time donations will be directed towards other parts of the Town Square project.

“We want to take this opportunity to thank all donors and volunteers for their dedication to make this dream come true for Cedar Springs,” said Community Building Development Team chair Kurt Mabie. “It has taken years of planning by the Library Board, the City of Cedar Springs, the Community Building Development Team and various sub-committees to get to this point. We are now hoping that others in our Community will step up to the challenge and help make all of this possible.”

All gifts are tax deductible.  Both the CBDT and the Library are non-profit organizations.  The CBDT is a 501 (c) 3 and the Library is a 170 (c) 1. Checks should be made out to the Community Building Development Team and sent to the treasurer of the CBDT, Sue Mabie, at 15022 Ritchie Ave, Cedar Springs, Michigan, 49319

To obtain the forms for donating towards a brick or a block, you may call Donna Clark, Director of the Library, at 696-1910 or email her at ceddc@llcoop.org.  Checks for these fundraisers should be made out to the Cedar Springs Community Library. General contributions will be recognized inside the Library.

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Rogue River Green team returns to improve watershed

From left to right: Intern DeAnna Clum, students Liam Gardner, James Olsen, Max Homrich and Claire Gault visiting a garden in Grand Rapids.

From left to right: Intern DeAnna Clum, students Liam Gardner, James Olsen, Max Homrich and Claire Gault visiting a garden in Grand Rapids.

Be on the lookout this summer for eight local high school students working in their community to protect its water resources. Through a program with Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative, the Green Team of students are spending their summer learning about the Rogue River and creative ways to manage its major pollutant—stormwater runoff—with green infrastructure.

Rockford High School students Max Homrich and James Olsen installing a rain garden for a property owner on Rum Creek.

Rockford High School students Max Homrich and James Olsen installing a rain garden for a property owner on Rum Creek.

The June team, comprised of Liam Gardner, Max Homrich, James Olsen, and returning member Claire Gault, are led by local landscaper and native plant specialist Georgia Donovan. During their four weeks, the students will be working on public and private lands to install and maintain rain gardens, bioswales, and other native landscaping techniques in Rockford, Cedar Springs, and Sparta.

In addition to field work, the students will be working with their partner Green Team downstream in Plaster Creek—taking classes at Calvin College, working in the greenhouse with Plaster Creek Stewards, and meeting professionals in the environmental field for valuable job training. Although many of the students hope to pursue a career in aquatic ecology and biology, the knowledge they are gaining through this experience will help them make good decisions as a citizen of the planet in every aspect of their life.

If you see the Green Team working on riparian buffers to Rum Creek in Rockford, or planting a rain garden by CS Tool Engineering in Cedar Springs, or landscaping Sparta Area Schools’ campuses with native vegetation, be sure to say hi and thank them for their efforts to protect the Rogue River across the watershed.

The Green Team is supported by a grant through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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The Post travels to Washington D.C.

Marckini shakes hands with Roberto Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education Policy.

Marckini shakes hands with Roberto Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education Policy.

School Board Trustee Joe Marckini recently traveled to The White House, in Washington D.C., to advocate for our Cedar Springs Public Schools.

Mr. Marckini met with Roberto Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education Policy.

Trustee Marckini is passionate about serving the students and citizens of Cedar Springs and is a champion for public education throughout our nation.

Thank you, Joe, for advocating for our school district, and for taking the Post with you!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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PTSD: Not Just a Veteran’s Illness

HEA-PTSD-despairBy Mary Kuhlman, The Michigan News Connection

LANSING, Mich. Almost 25 million people in the United States are living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the support group PTSD United. That includes thousands of Michiganders who have suffered a traumatic event, from crimes or natural disasters to events surrounding military service.

The diagnosis is only part of seeking help, said Dr. Matthew Friedman, senior adviser at the Veterans Administration’s National Center for PTSD.

“On the one hand, there are resilient people who meet the full diagnostic criteria for PTSD, but they can cope with the symptoms,” he said. “Then, there are other people for whom PTSD is completely debilitating.”

Friedman said treatment has advanced to include cognitive behavior therapy and medication that can help people work through their illness. While it’s normal to experience stress after a traumatic event, Friedman said you should seek professional help if it lasts longer than three months, disrupts home or work life, or you find yourself reliving the event frequently and experiencing flashbacks.

“We really want people to recognize that they’ve got PTSD and, if they’re not sure, they should see a professional who can help them sort that out—and if they do, then we have treatments that work,” he said. “People who think they have PTSD, or their loved one has PTSD, should seek treatment.”

The annual cost of anxiety disorders to society is estimated to be significantly more than $42 billion, often due to misdiagnosis and undertreatment. This includes the costs of psychiatric and nonpsychiatric medical treatment and prescription drugs, plus indirect workplace costs and mortality costs.

More information is online at ptsd.va.gov.

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Five top trends in container gardening

BLOOM-Five-top-trends(BPT) Gardening is a peaceful activity that eases tension, reduces overall stress and promotes longevity. One long-term study found that daily gardening reduces the risk for both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. With all of these benefits, there are ample reasons why people of all ages and lifestyles should start digging in the dirt.

You don’t need a big yard or lots of room to enjoy a beautiful garden. With so many options for indoor and outdoor container gardening, there’s no limit on the number of gardens you can have. Container gardening is a great way to color up a small space, add depth and height to your yard or easily change up the look of your patio. No matter your skill level, enjoy the benefits of gardening with these container trends:

Foliage gardens

Foliage plants are no longer just accessories for your small space garden. You can create an entire display simply out of rich, colorful foliage plants. Fountain grass, papyrus, vinca and grassy rush are all great additions for adding vibrancy to your container garden. Mix and match with various textures to find a unique display that speaks to you.

Petunia tower

A petunia tower is a great way to add an unexpected element to your container garden collection. A flower tower is easy to make and sun-loving Tidal Wave Petunias will bloom all season long on a patio, deck or pool area. You will need only three Tidal Wave plants. The Red Velour have great color and texture and make a strong statement. Plant them with good potting soil into a 10 to 12 inch wide plastic nursing pot. Place a three-foot metal tomato cage into the pot. The cage should be as wide at the bottom as it is on the top. Now slip the entire plastic pot into a glazed pot that’s about one to four inches wider, and voila!

Hanging baskets

Hanging flower baskets bring your plants to eye-level, where everyone can enjoy their wonderful scents and sights. Add beauty to an otherwise dull porch, wall or rafters. Try planting succulents for a virtually care-free container garden. Petunias, calibrachoa and pansies also make wonderful additions to hanging baskets.

Combination containers

Who says your container garden can only have one plant? Get creative and play with different color and texture combinations of plants and flowers. You can make up your own mix or search online for combo recipes by other inspiring gardeners. Mix foliage with flowers and use a color scheme to build a balanced and beautiful container.

Indoor container gardening

Take your favorite hobby inside. Even if you have a small apartment, there’s no need to rule out house plants. Find the best place for each plant, depending on their light requirements. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different locations until you find the best spot for your indoor containers. For sun-loving plants, just be sure to place them on a windowsill for maximum light exposure.

With so many options and room for creativity, container gardening is a trend that’s here to stay. Tap into your inventive side to build a container garden that brings joy and wellness both indoors and out. For more gardening ideas, tips and tricks visit wavepetunias.com.

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State urges travelers to leave firewood at home

Perfectly round exit holes, just smaller than a dime, in tree limbs and trunks can be a sign of Asian longhorned beetle infestation. Photo courtesy of Joe Boggs, Ohio State University, Bugwood.org.

Perfectly round exit holes, just smaller than a dime, in tree limbs and trunks can be a sign of Asian longhorned beetle infestation. Photo courtesy of Joe Boggs, Ohio State University, Bugwood.org.

As the summer travel season begins, the Michigan departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Natural Resources remind vacationers to leave firewood at home to prevent the spread of invasive tree insects and diseases.

Hauling firewood from one part of the state to another is a common way for these destructive pests to move to new locations, which could be devastating to Michigan’s native trees. The emerald ash borer already has wiped out millions of ash trees across the state. High-impact diseases, including oak wilt and beech bark disease, now are making their way through Michigan – often helped by travelers with trunkloads of wood harboring unseen fungi that can spread to healthy trees in new areas.

The fungus that causes oak wilt is visible under the bark of this split log.

The fungus that causes oak wilt is visible under the bark of this split log.

“Visual inspection does not always reveal disease or insect damage in wood,” said Gina Alessandri, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division director. “Disease may be in an early stage, and insect larvae can be hidden under bark. The safest choice is to burn firewood at or near the location it was harvested.”

Travelers are encouraged to buy firewood at their destination, burn it all on-site and not take it home or to their next destination. In most public and private campgrounds, firewood is available on the premises or from nearby firewood vendors.

It is a good idea to purchase firewood within a short distance of where it will be used. For ease in finding a local vendor, use www.firewoodscout.org. For day trips that include a cookout, bring charcoal or a cook-stove instead of firewood.

In- and out-of-state quarantines limit movement of regulated wood items to prevent the spread of invasive species and tree diseases. In Michigan, it is illegal to transport hardwood firewood in violation of the MDARD EAB Quarantine.

“It’s recommended that travelers do a little firewood homework before their trip,” said Jason Fleming, chief of the Resource Management Section in the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “Many out-of-state visitors live in areas under quarantine for pests such as thousand cankers disease or Asian longhorned beetle, and it is illegal to move any regulated items (including items such as firewood and wood chips) from quarantined zones out of those states and into Michigan.”

Quarantines for Asian longhorned beetle include areas of New York, Massachusetts and Ohio. The Asian longhorned beetle is not known to be in Michigan, but the public is asked to look for signs of this invasive beetle, including round, 3/8-inch-diameter exit holes in tree trunks or limbs. Asian longhorned beetle larvae feed on a wide variety of tree species including maple, birch, elm, willow, buckeye, horse chestnut and other hardwoods. The damage caused by Asian longhorned beetles ultimately will destroy an infested tree.

Anyone observing an actual beetle or a tree that appears to be damaged is asked to report it. If possible, capture the beetle in a jar, take photos, record the location, and report it as soon as possible through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Asian longhorned beetle website, www.asianlonghornedbeetle.com or contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 or MDA-info@michigan.gov.

More information on the Asian longhorned beetle and other invasive forest insects and tree diseases can be found at www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies. Select the “take action” tab to learn more ways to avoid transporting invasive species during the recreation and travel season.

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