Tonight at the meeting of the Columbia Township trustees, the Clark Lake Invasive Species Committee delivered signed petitions requesting the formation of a special assessment district (SAD) to control invasive weeds in the lake. All trustees present voted to accept the petitions. The signed petitions represent over 70% of lakefront owners. In delivering the petitions, Committee Chairman John Deming spoke as follows:
“Clark Lake is threatened by an aquatic invasive species known as hybrid Eurasian water milfoil, abbreviated as HEWM. DNA testing has confirmed its presence in the lake. A survey last fall, supported by the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, revealed that there was 20 acres in the lake. This weed propagates rapidly. A small piece of plant that drifts to a new location can start an entirely new colony. On the Clark Lake Spirit [this] website, there are before and after aerial photos showing how quickly it took root near the County Park. Other photos illustrate its density. HEWM grows in waters up to 20 feet deep, right up to the shoreline. Other lakes in the region that did not check its advance found that it curtailed recreational use of their waters, destroyed wildlife habitat, and was detrimental to property values. Before a treatment program at Grass Lake began, a witness reported seeing a muskrat walking on top of the weeds where before there was open water.
“The Committee researched the problem extensively and believes that the only way to halt this invasion is through application of approved herbicides by professionals. Because of the limitation of riparian rights and the cost of ongoing treatment, the Committee is convinced that it is necessary to establish a special assessment district or SAD under Michigan Public Act 188 of 1954, as amended.
“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 format of which was approved by Columbia Township. The Committee is ready to present to the Township 251 signed petitions attesting to the agreement of over 70% of lakefront property owners, based on their lakefront footage.
“The gathering of these petitions over the last four weeks represents the work of hundreds of man-hours from a team of volunteers who are part of the Clark Lake community. Along with those who signed the petition, the volunteers are evidence of the considerable desire of Clark Lake property owners to initiate this program. The Committee will need the guidance of the Township as to how these petitions should be delivered and if there can be written acknowledgement in the form of a receipt.
“Time is of the essence. By next summer, it’s estimated that the Clark Lake HEWM population will have covered 25 acres. That’s in spite of a privately funded program that will eradicate a little over 4 acres this spring. The Committee believes that the SAD must be in operation so the assessments can be part of the Winter 2015 tax bills, and that treatment of the HEWM can commence in Spring 2016 to any area of the lake where the weed is detected.
“This evening, we are also presenting a formal plan and budget projections for the 7 year life of the SAD. Included is a pamphlet that the Committee has handed out to residents that answers commonly asked questions. The results of many hours of research can be found at clarklakespirit dot com under invasive weeds.
It is our hope that the Board of Trustees will take quick action and that there will be expeditious staff support so that formation of the SAD will meet all deadlines.
Next steps include public notice and hearings. This website will continue to update further developments as they occur. You can follow earlier progress of the committee on this website under the Invasive Weeds tab.