Perhaps you’re wondering about a mailing from Columbia Township.  This notice is part of the process that will renew the weed program that has so successfully defended Clark Lake’s waters over the last seven years. 

Here’s some background. In 2014 Clark Lakers noticed a rapidly-growing problem.  Weeds were taking over large sections of the lake.  One resident described it as “an Amazon jungle lurking an inch below the surface.”  Depending on what area, a raft ride might be delayed two or three times to clear the prop of weeds.  Mounds of weeds were floating from one area of the lake to another.  Residents were alarmed.   

A couple Clark Lake residents took action by sending out samples to be analyzed. The verdict?  Clark Lake was under attack by hybrid Eurasian water milfoil (HEWM).  Concerned residents formed the Invasive Species Committee.  They started by thoroughly researching the problem, and what they found was troubling.  A small cutting of this invasive weed can multiply exponentially.  They talked to other communities, and found this–lakes that didn’t take action paid a price.  Weeds diminished boating, fishing, destroyed natural habitat, and property values decreased in some situations. 

What to do?  Forming a special assessment district (SAD) would allow full lake treatment and cover costs.  Committee members took on a huge task, going door to door and reaching 70% of lakefront owners.  They found strong support—95% signed the petition to form the SAD. 

Once the program was established, early efforts achieved moderate success.  The results of the 2019 full lake treatment were nothing short of spectacular.  Then, last summer, the invader began to reappear, perhaps not a surprise given the number of boats visiting from infected lakes.  

Over the last couple years, a new threat appeared—starry stonewort.  This algae masquerades as a weed.  It can be very aggressive growing to heights of 7 feet and so dense that no person or fish could move through it.  Some nearby lakes are grappling with out-of-control attacks.  At Clark Lake, it has been treated at Eagle Point and in the area around the County Park.  

A reasonable question is “when will it end?”  It’s ongoing. Current strains are reintroduced by visiting boats, new strains can combine with existing native or hybrid plants, and a new threat could materialize at any moment. 

Another question regards responsibility.  Shouldn’t others who use the lake have to take precautions or pay for the treatment?  In the best of worlds, the answer to both is yes.  Yet, as you visit practical scenarios that would accomplish those objectives, you quickly find unbelievable complications.  Putting this into the perspective of another question provides its own answer.  What kind of result do lakefront property owners desire?  A lake with weeds under control or a lake facing a nightmarish dystopian world?

The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation and the Invasive Species Committee are comprised of fellow Clark Lake residents.  Both have told the Township they support the renewal of the SAD. 

The cost of the expiring program is $64 per year for each lakefront property owner. The new term reduces that amount to $60.  A bargain, considering the effective results achieved.

The content of the Township mailing was replicated in this week’s Exponent.  Here it is.

Looking for more?  The most recent article on this topic dealt with the Township voting to move this project forward to the next step.  This website has archived most articles posted about this topic, including links to research.  Click here to learn more