Invasive Species

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In 2008-2009, people who used the lake began noticing that a tall, thick stemmed plant was appearing by increasing numbers around the lake. It appeared tat these plans were crowding out our native plants and taking over water fowl nesting areas and fish spawning grounds. At about the same time, boaters were noting that they had difficulty getting through parts of the lake because of the heavy weed beds. Propellers became tangled in weeds and some places fishing lines could not penetrate the weeds. The thick, tall weeds with bushy tops were identified as phragmites and the thick water born weeds as Eurasian Water Milfoil.

The takeover by these weeds was threatening the quality of the lake, access to the lake and the use of the lake for fishing, boating and water skiing, etc. Thus, through the cooperation of the Watershed Council and The Township Board, an invasive species committee was formed to study the problem, identify treatment approaches, and recommend a strategy to eradicate the invasive species, maintain the water quality and preserve our fisheries.

Lake management companies were interviewed and asked to present lake management plans that met our objectives. To preserve the lake as stated above, and thus the economic anchor for our community, it soon became obvious that funds would be necessary beyond what could be funded by the assets of the Township and the Watershed Council.

Through a series of public information meetings about the problem, how to address it and how to fund it, the broad Onekama community supported the formation of a special assessment district (SAD) to provide funds for a five year program designed to check the growth of these invasive species.

We can say that after 5Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 12.06.59 PM years of treatment, phragmites is under control and requires only spot treatment around the lake and in key spots in the township where it has been established. During the 5-year period a total of approximately 124 acres of phragmites were treated with 10 acres during 2013. Maintenance treatment will have to continue each year to keep it under control.
(Lft: Phragmites patch in Michigan)

The Eurasian Water Milfoil, however, has proven to be more resilient and resistant for a whole lot of reasons which include crossbreeding with Northern Milfoil, being transported into and around the lake by boats, changing water temperatures and increasing water clarity. This invasive species has also established itself in our two deep basins. All this requires continued treatment and experimentation with and evaluation of agents that can control it under different conditions, while preserving water quality and our fisheries. Everything that we have collected in data demonstrates that we have kept it under control while not impacting native plants and fish. Native plants are actually developing a recovery which is good for the fishery. Approximately 540 acres of milfoil were treated during the five years with 130 acres treated in 2013.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 12.07.05 PM(RT: Eurasian Watermilfoil)
Working with our lake manager, the invasive species committee has established a strong program to track the spread of Eurasian Water Milfoil as we attempt to keep it in check. The quality of our water, through studies of clarity, presence of organic materials and conditions that foster invasive plant growth is also regularly monitored. Discharges from streams and storm sewers are also monitored to understand the nutrients that enter our lake.

Through the last five years of effort, our lake is one of very good quality, but the invasive species program and the water quality assessment will have to extend beyond 2013 to make sure we have a stable balance. Our lake manager has informed us that we will have to conduct a maintenance program annually for the foreseeable future that contains the phragmites and continues an aggressive program for Eurasian Water Milfoil.

The invasive species committee has asked the Township Board to obtain the funds for the continuation of our program once again through the establishment of a special assessment district (SAD). The current SAD cannot be continued and thus, a new one must be formed. On February 4, 2014, the Township Board passed a resolution of intent to establish a SAD. Public hearings to inform and allow residents to comment will be held on April 15 and May 13. The proposed SAD will use the same assessment formula as in the last SAD.

51-150 feet of shoreline    1 Unit

151-200 feet                         2 Units

251-400 feet                         3 Units

400 and above                     4 Units

All parcels not on the lake   1/8 Unit

1 Unit is $130     1/8 unit = $16

An annual budget of $83,600 will be provided by this assessment to accomplish the maintenance program.

Supporting information about the activities and successes of the work of the invasive species committee can be found in the annual lake quality report and monthly reports to the Township Board which are available on the watershed link on the website or you can request them from the Township Clerk.

We urge your continuing support of this program through supporting this SAD!

More Information:

Carole Lembi – Why Aquatic Herbicides Affect Aquatic Plants and Not You!



Asian Carp

Invasive_Species_Detail Timeline


Marsh marigolds are blooming on the lake side of the Farr Center! How exciting that without the phragmites they are coming back! This picture of a beautiful native plant, the marsh marigold, supports that the chemicals used did not kill the native plants, but instead made room for them to grow again.