Clark Lake’s continuing war on invasive weeds came before the Columbia Township Board of Trustees last night. The board took the first step to ensure that the fight will go on and the lake is defended.
In 2014, the community found Clark Lake was under attack by invasive weeds. Unlike native weeds, these hybrids propagated fast and furiously. Samples were analyzed in a lab. The result? Hybrid Eurasian water milfoil. Volunteers formed the Invasive Species Committee to research the problem and seek solutions. Under the chairmanship of John Deming. the committee discovered that lakes that didn’t act, paid a price. The quickly multiplying weeds diminished boating, swimming, and fishing. They destroyed natural habitats. Property values decreased. An appalling prospect faced Clark Lake.
A public comment given at the meeting continued the narrative.
“Private treatment must have permission of each riparian affected. That means only one property owner could stop full lake treatment. The solution? A special assessment district would allow entire lake treatment, and also cover the cost. Today, lakefront property owners pay $64 a year for this service thru property taxes.
“In the beginning, treatments achieved moderate success. That changed in 2019. With government approval of Sonar, PLM treated the entire lake, 5.7 parts per billion. Results were spectacular.
“Recently one resident asked ‘when will this end?’ The answer is probably never, and here’s why. Clark Lake is constantly visited by boats that come from infected waters. Invasive species are reintroduced. Some hybrid Eurasian water milfoil began to grow again in 2021 and was spot treated. And over the last couple years, starry stonewort was found near Eagle Point and the County Park. This algae mats, and can rise to 7 feet in height. PLM treated it, but it can never be eradicated. Leave it alone, and Clark Lake could have a massive problem. And in the future? With so many visitors, who knows what species could arrive next.
“To initiate the current SAD, the Committee took petitions door to door and asked for signatures. Volunteers were able to contact 70% of the 377 lakefront property owners. Of those, 95% favored action, and signed the petition.
“The success of the SAD is clear, and receives current support. Members of the Invasive Species Committee and directors of the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation have both voted to support reestablishing the SAD, and they asked Columbia Township board to go forward with it.
Others at the meeting made comments. Each identified his or her view of the current SAD and what should happen with it. Watch to find out what they believe.
With the term of the current SAD expiring, the consensus of the Columbia Township Board was to go forward with reestablishing it. The next step will take place at the January meeting.
Steve Hanson represents PLM, the company that treats Clark Lake’s weed problem. He has said that current level of funding would continue to be adequate.