HEWM was observed Thursday breaking the surface near the County Park. This photo is from summer 2014

Treatment to check the advance of hybrid Eurasian water milfoil (HEWM) is scheduled to take place on Clark Lake on Wednesday, June 10, weather permitting.

As you are likely aware, DNA evidence confirmed the presence of HEWM in the lake. A survey last fall, funded by the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, revealed that 20 acres of this fast spreading invader has taken root in the lake. When other lakes left infestations unchecked, they found that this rapidly propagating weed curtails recreational activity, is detrimental to property values and destroys habitat.

The treatment program scheduled for Wednesday will cover four areas of the lake (see illustration). Treatment in these areas required the permission of lakefront property owners and permits from the DEQ/DNR. Signs will be posted and owners in those areas will be notified directly. There is a 24 hour swimming restriction 100 feet from the affected areas.

Weed treatment map ps 2015 01-22

The treatment of these four areas, a small portion of the 20 acres, was financed through donations to the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation. To legally treat HEWM wherever it exists in the lake, it is necessary to establish a special assessment district (SAD). A group of mostly Clark Lake residents, the Clark Lake Invasive Species Committee, is currently circulating petitions to create the SAD. In spite of the fact that quick action is essential in thwarting HEWM’s advance, treatment of the remainder of the 20 or more acres will not take place until 2016. This is because of the time it takes to set up the SAD.

According to the chairman of the Invasive Species Committee, John Deming, the petition drive is going well. “Ninety-five percent of the lakefront owners that the committee has been able to contact have signed the petition, affirming their support” reports John. He notes “property owners understand the dire nature of this threat and how it could turn our lake into something we’ve only seen elsewhere. Other lakes have battled this threat, and we have learned what’s effective from their experiences.”

What about those who chose not to sign? John Deming replies “a small number of people thought others should pay for the treatment, which is $85 in the first year for lakefront property owners.” John pointed to the committee’s conclusion that “the added complexity of trying to determine which back lot owners should pay or somehow charging non-residents who bring their boats onto the lake would surely delay this for a year or two more.” He summarized, “that’s unacceptable when facing a challenge like this–delay means more weeds and added costs to eradicate them.” Other lakes found the cost declines in subsequent years once the weed is under control  (see newspaper article regarding nearby Devils Lake). John remarked “a multiple choice petition is not possible–the choice is to sign and control, or not sign and let the lake be overrun by this weed.”

It’s certain that lakefront property owners have most to lose. A local real estate agent commented that the premium in land value for lakefront owners quickly dissipates when a lake becomes infested with weeds and does nothing about it.

Sample petition:


Signed petitions will soon be presented to Columbia Township as the next step in this process. This website will continue to report on this topic.

Below you can download a PDF version of a pamphlet that addresses additional questions that you may have.  To print, choose “print both sides of paper, flip on short-edge, auto-portrait landscape.”

Invasive Weed Brochure