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    Meijer, Nature Conservancy Fight Against Invasive Plants

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Meijer here is teaming up with The Nature Conservancy to try to reduce the threat of invasive plant species along the Lake Michigan shoreline, part of the world's largest freshwater dune system.

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Meijer here is teaming up with The Nature Conservancy to try to reduce the threat of invasive plant species along the Lake Michigan shoreline, part of the world's largest freshwater dune system.

    Meijer said it will donate $450,000 over the next three years to support work to reduce invasive plants in the area. Additionally, Meijer said it will educate consumers recommended non-invasive species in its Garden Centers next spring, throughout the five-state region (Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio) in which it operates.

    Meijer said it purge its inventory of two species known to be invasive, the Norway maple and Lombardy poplar.

    "We chose to work with The Nature Conservancy, a world-class organization, to help protect our environment," said co-chairman and co-chief executive Hank Meijer, grandson of the company's founder, Hendrik Meijer. "By combining the power of their scientific expertise with our reach to consumers, we have a chance to make a real difference literally on the ground."

    Nature Conservancy scientists said an invasive plant is one that grows and reproduces rapidly, causing major changes to the area where it became established. Almost all invasive plants are non-native, but not all non-native plants become invasive. Hundreds of non-native plants have become established in the Midwest, yet relatively few become invasive.

    "Everyone knows how invasives like zebra mussels and the emerald ash borer have had devastating consequences on our environment," said Helen Taylor, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan. "But some of the worst invasives are plants like purple loosestrife and garlic mustard, which were originally introduced as garden plants and now have taken over the landscape. Meijer is taking a dramatic step against these invaders by supporting our stewardship work along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and by helping consumers make better choices for their own backyards."

    Next spring, consumers will find 16 percent of Meijer's plants, trees, and shrubs with a special icon indicating scientists determined them as "Recommended Non-Invasive." It will train all Meijer Garden Center employees about the new plant tags and invasive species at its annual retreat in early 2007. Meijer will also educate consumers through educational materials both in and out of stores.

    "People want to help the environment, but don't often know how," said Meijer. "This will help educate consumers while they're shopping about what plants are best-suited for their backyard to avoid a detrimental effect on the landscape we all share."

    The family-owned and operated Meijer operates 176 grocery and general merchandise supercenters throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. Progressive Grocer has chosen Meijer as the 2006 Retailer of the Year, and profiles the retailer in the December 2006 issue.

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