Hopes others will learn from herbicide use at Sand Lake
To the Editor,
When Sand Lake identified a problem with invasive aquatic weed species in 2009, including Eurasion Water Milfoil and Starry Stonewort, people were very concerned. Invasive species represent a serious threat that may greatly limit use of a lake and even damage the natural habitat. Many lakes have experienced difficulty in controlling invasive species, but we were fortunate in selecting a chemical treatment that has proven quite effective.
The purpose of this letter is to share our experience to benefit people in other lakes. Once a lake is infested with invasive species, permanent eradication of the new species is not an option, so property owners are faced with an ongoing problem of managing these new weed species. This requires establishing a special tax assessment district to fund weed control, but success depends on selecting the right method and the right people to apply the treatments. After researching the available treatment options, the focus was on proven methods that worked without damaging water quality or the fish habitat. The most compelling success story was Houghton Lake - fixing the States’s largest and most difficult invasive species problem.
This experience is documented in the Michigan Riparian, Winter 2009 article — “The Houghton Lake Management Plan” which may be downloaded from the web site www.houghtonlake-board.org . By 2001, Houghton Lake was infested with 11,000 acres of Eurasian Milfoil, including 5300 acres so dense that it was difficult to navigate a boat. A Lake Improvement Board was established and they invited the US Corps of Engineers and other experts to study the problem and recommend a solution. A herbicide treatment targeting invasive species was begun in 2002 and the invasive species were quickly brought under control. Since that time, annual treatments maintained control and annual water quality reports are published on the Houghton Lake Board web site. The result has been positive, both in terms of water quality and stable and abundant fish species.
On this basis, Sand Lake selected a herbicide protocol similar to that used at Houghton Lake and a contractor involved in the application at Houghton Lake. While control of invasive aquatic species involves many complex technical issues, we have found that the best solution is the one that works in real life conditions.