Representatives from Professional Lake Management (PLM) and SePro surveyed the lake this morning.  PLM’s Steven Hanson and SePro’s J.T. Gravelie examined weed samples to determine the best course of treatment to thwart hybrid Eurasian water milfoil or HEWM. 

This invasive species multiplies quickly and is notorious for taking over lakes.  It curtails recreational uses such as boating and fishing, destroys wildlife habitat and impairs navigation.  Lakes that stood idly by watched property values plunge.

Ninety-five percent of lake front property owners contacted by the Invasive Species Committee signed a petition asking for action. As a result, Columbia Township formed a special assessment district (SAD) that allows treatment anywhere HEWM exists in the lake and supports the cost through property taxes.

Key takeaways

  • PLM and product manufacturer SePro believe a new product called Procellacor shows great promise, and the study today was designed to investigate its potential here. In 2016, the lake was treated with Renovate (active ingredient triclopyr).  Initial results were good, but near the end of the season, HEWM regrowth was detected.  For an  explanation on the challenge, please scroll down to the last paragraph.
  • Procellacor acts both systemically and on contact.  After a few weeks, the invasive plants collapse. Renovate worked differently.  It caused the plants to experience sudden, explosive growth, and then the weed would collapse on itself.
  • Procellacor is getting favorable test results elsewhere.  Samples taken today, and more samples to be taken late in August or September, will be tested in the lab to determine efficacy.
  • EPA approval of Procellacor is expected soon. That will be followed by Michigan DEQ approval process.  How quickly could Clark Lake be treated? J.T. Gravelie says the optimistic answer is “mid-summer 2018.”  More realistically, he said “it will probably be 2019”.
  • PLM has not treated the lake this summer.  When asked about the current state of the lake, Steve Hanson said it “looks better than expected.”  He opined “there is less HEWM in the lake than before treatment began, and that, of course, is favorable.”  But further Renovate treatment was deemed wasteful if a product like Procellacor is on the horizon. 

John Deming and Rick Belcher, on a nearby raft, watched progress and discussed the issues with Steve Hanson and J. T. Gravelie.

John Deming, chairman of the Clark Lake Invasive Species Committee, says “I like that PLM and SePro are approaching this problem in a scientific manner.”  He also noted that “PLM could treat every year, take the money and run.  Instead they are doing their due diligence, customizing the approach for Clark Lake, and not wasting our money.”  John Deming added “some areas of the lake where we saw HEWM two years ago are now devoid of it. So some progress had been made.”

Comments from Township trustees present–Bob Elrod, John Calhoun and Flip Reynolds–indicated that tax moneys collected this year could be rolled into future years.  Fewer treatments with a more effective product could reduce the overall costs of this program.

What’s the challenge in thwarting an invasive plant like HEWM?  PLM also treats other lakes in our region, and they have found each lake to be individual. Take, for example, this chain reaction when Eurasian milfoil enters a lake.  The invader mates with the native plant.  The resulting hybrid mates with other hybrids and native plants.  Or varieties of hybrids travel from lake to lake by boat or other means. Darwinian evolution implies improved sustainability and thus, a greater opportunity to procreate, and become immune to threats like treatment programs.  Take that cycle through several iterations, and you can see the challenge in knocking off an invasive species.

To read more about this program, please click here.

Trustee Flip Reynolds, Supervisor Bob Elrod, and Treasurer John Calhoun also watched the survey from close by, and questioned Steven Hanson and J. T. Gravelie on their findings and recommendations.