HEWM cuttings. Props chop off the tops. The pieces then migrate and start new colonies. This mass was found during a busy weekend this summer.

The Columbia Township Board voted 6-0 tonight (Monday 9/21) to finalize the formation of a special assessment district (SAD) at Clark Lake.

This is the culmination of a year long drive by Clark Lake residents to stiffen the fight against an invasive weed that has made its way into the lake–hybrid Eurasian water milfoil (HEWM).  When DNA testing confirmed its presence in the lake and a survey last fall revealed about 20 acres in the lake, these residents formed the Clark Lake Invasive Species committee. They quickly came face-to-face with an ugly truth–lakes that did not check the spread of HEWM found that it curtailed recreational activities, destroyed wildlife habitat, and hurt property values. The SAD will allow treatment wherever the weed is found in the lake. The SAD also supports the cost of the treatment through a $64.42 per year assessment for each lakefront property owner.

The roll call vote (see video below) took place after the second of two public hearings (to read about the first one, click here).  The purpose of the second hearing was to hear if someone was put into the SAD by mistake (to read the notice, click here).  No one spoke.

Through private donations to the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, four areas of the lake were treated early this summer. A licensed operator performed the treatment with a permit from the DEQ and with the consent of property owners. Because of the limitation of property owner rights, the areas treated stopped at 250 feet from shore. HEWM grows in waters of up to 20 feet deep, and there is a lots of it beyond 250 feet. The SAD addresses this limitation.

The Clark Lake Invasive Species Committee consists of Clark Lake volunteers who researched the problem thoroughly and concluded the only way to deal with HEWM was by the application of approved herbicides. They then took the message door to door, held a public information hearing in December, and this spring started a petition drive to create the SAD.  At the first public hearing in August, committee chairman John Deming told the trustees and the audience about  community response.  “In taking the SAD concept to residents, the committee found overwhelming support–95% of lakefront property owners contacted by the committee signed the SAD petition.”  The committee delivered to the township petitions signed by 74% of the lakefront owners.

This fall another survey of the lake will be conducted that will form the framework for treatment next spring.  Because the SAD doesn’t take effect until 2016, the cost of the survey this fall will be borne by donations already received by the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation.