MLSA 2014 “Riparians of the Year” Award Goes to Vicki and Pat Springstead of Higgins Lakes

July 18, 2014 11:45

Vicki and Pat Springstead of Higgins Lake (Roscommon County) have received the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations’ 2014 “Riparians of the Year” award. The annual award was announced at the Michigan Inland Lakes Convention banquet in early May and presented to the Springsteads on June 25, 2014 during the ML&SA Board of Directors meeting held in Greenville. The award is presented annually to an  organization or individuals whose lake or stream conservation and/or stewardship activities during the past year have best exemplified the  mission and goals of ML&SA. Vicki and Pat have both devoted considerable time and energy to educating state legislators and the local community leaders about the ecological, economic and social importance of healthy inland lakes. The entire ML&SA family extends its appreciation to Vicki and Pat for their devotion to preserving and protecting our inland waters!

MLSA President and Good Friend Sue Vomish Passes Away

July 17, 2014 10:30

by Sharon Wagner
ML&SA Central Office Manager

It is with deep regret we share the sad news that Sue Vomish, ML&SA President, passed away following a long illness on June 29, 2014. Sue played a major role in ML&SA serving as both Board President and Regional Three Representative for many years. The reason many of the lake property owners in her area became ML&SA lake association members is due to her tireless efforts. Because of her passion, they continue to stay involved and committed to good stewardship. On behalf of the board and staff of both ML&SA and The Michigan Riparian, we would like to express our sincere condolences to Sue’s family. She was a tremendous leader, volunteer and friend. Our hearts are heavy. She will be greatly missed. A special tribute to Sue will be featured in our Fall 2014 issue of The Michigan Riparian. If you have a memory, picture or note to share for Sue’s tribute please email to: swagner@ no later than Sept 1, 2014.

Benefits to Michigan’s fish species in relation to natural shorelines

July 13, 2014 11:05

By Brett Riser, Aquatic Biologist
Calhoun Conservation District and Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership Educator

Natural shorelines are not only visually appealing but directly benefit many fish species in Michigan. Michigan has more than 11,000 lakes, tens of thousands miles of rivers and streams and 43 percent of the Great Lakes waters within it s borders. Within this vast resource live many fish species that are important to our recreational fisheries. Recreational fisheries are a huge economic engine for the state and provide the largest and highest-value use of Michigan’s aquatic resources as documented in the recently released U.S. Fish and Wildlife report (2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation) and the Department of Natural Resources 2013-2017 Fisheries Division Strategic Plan, “Charting the Course: Fisheries Division’s Framework for Managing Aquatic Resources”. In addition to the economic benefits of our fisheries, fish populations are often one of several indicators that determine the aquatic health of our water systems.

Critical littoral habitat, riparian habitat, and ecosystem function are altered as a result of shoreline residential development (Engel & Pederson 1998; Francis & Shindler 2009) and many of Michigan’s shorelines have been altered as a result of residential development. Landowners often clear large trees and remove dead trees from the water. Fallen trees in littoral zones, can serve as important refuge for fish (Roth et al. 2007) and complex littoral vegetation comprised of emergent, submerged and free-floating macrophytes (aquatic plants) along the shoreline provide structural complexity that mediates predator–prey interactions by providing refuge for small fishes (Sass et al. 2006).

Michigan’s sunfish species belonging to the family Centrachidae are extremely important to inland fisheries in Michigan and very popular with anglers. The sunfish species are significantly impacted by shoreline development – or the removal of natural shorelines. There are 12 species of Centrachidae in the state and of these: bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), redear sun fish (Lepomis microlophus), largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), and black crappie(Pomoxis nigromaculatus) are examples of  species of significant importance to Michigan’s sport fishery that are negatively impacted from shoreline development. These species are abundant in many Michigan lakes and rivers providing residents and visitors many successful angling opportunities.

Effects of development on shorelines extend into the water body itself, and may lead to large shifts in fish communities (Roth et al. 2007). Within developed lakes, black crappie nest adjacent to undeveloped sections of shoreline and associate with macrophytes which are less abundant in developed shorelines (Reed & Pereira 2009). The same trend has been identified for largemouth bass (Scheuerell & Shindler 2004) and bluegill growth rates negatively correlate with shoreline development (Schindler et al. 2000). Largemouth bass in highly developed lakes take longer to enter the fishery and may reach trophy lengths more rapidly in undeveloped systems (Gaeta et al. 2010). Natural shorelines containing vegetation provide needed habitat for the reproduction and survival of these fish species and result in larger fish produced faster within these natural shoreline systems.

These studies indicate an adverse trend in shoreline residential development and its effects on fish communities, especially the Centrachidae (sunfish) family, in Michigan’s lakes and streams. These consequences can be hard to observe over time; and for the riparian landowner to witness how residential development of a shoreline can ultimately negatively affect the ecology of many fish communities is a challenge.

We have observed how natural shorelines benefit many species of wildlife and help to reduce soil erosion along our rivers and lakes. The benefits of natural shorelines extend well into surface waters where this highly desired habitat is extremely valuable, and depended upon, by many of Michigan’s fish species.


Engel, S. & Pederson Jr, J. L. 1998. The construction, aesthetics, and effects of lakeshore development: a literature review. No.  Research Report 177. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Francis, T. B. & Schindler, D.E. 2009. Shoreline urbanization reduces terrestrial insect subsidies to fishes in North American lakes. Oikos 118: 1872–1882.

Gaeta, J. W., M. J. Guarascio, G.G. Sass, and S.R. Carpenter. 2011. Lakeshore residential development and growth of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides): a cross-lakes comparison. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 20:92-101, doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0633.2010.00464.x

Reed, J.R. & Pereira, D. L. 2009. Relationships Between Shoreline Development and Nest Site Selection by Black Crappie and Largemouth Bass. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 29: 943–948.

Roth, B. M., Kaplan, I. C., Sass, G. G., Johnson, P. T., Marburg, A. E., Yannarell, A.C., Havlicek, T. D., Willis, T.V., Turner, M. G. & Carpenter, S. R. 2007. Linking terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems: the role of woody habitat in lake food webs. Ecological Modelling 203: 439–452.

Sass, G.G., Gille, C. M., Hinke, J. T. & Kitchell, J. F. 2006. Whole-lake influences of littoral structural complexity and prey body morphology on fish predator-prey interactions. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 15: 301–308.

Scheuerell, M. D. & Schindler, D. E. 2004. Changes in the spatial distribution of fishes in lakes along a residential development  gradient. Ecosystems 7: 98–106.

Schindler, D.E., Geib, S. I. & Williams, M. R. 2000. Patterns of fish growth along a residential development gradient in north temperate lakes. Ecosystems 3: 229–237.



A New Threat to Great Lakes Restoration and Our Health

June 11, 2014 21:00

Submitted by Freshwater Future

It’s been refreshing to hear positive news about restoring the Great Lakes these last several years. A much needed source of federal funds — the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which began in 2010 – provided a much needed boost to long-term regional cleanup and protection efforts in the U.S. The initiative helped to speed up “toxic hotspot” cleanups, restore critical habitat, tackle the problem of invasive species, and improve water quality. These large strides forward, however, still leave other concerns such as a new and serious problem threatening the health of the Great Lakes, and in particular, its smallest human inhabitants – young children.

Scientists have identified a common product in everyday use – coal tar sealcoats used to repair and protect pavements such as parking lots and driveways – and shown relationships to impaired water quality, a threat to aquatic life, and an alarming health risk to the public, especially young children.

Scientific studies have shown that the coal tar sealcoats are responsible for high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in the sediments of lakes and streams near coal tar sealcoat-treated pavements, and in particles and dust from the pavements. PAHs are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas, garbage, or other organic substances like tobacco or grilled meats. PAHs remain in the environment for a long time and a number are suspected or known carcinogens.

High levels of PAHs run off of coal tar sealcoat treated pavements for months following the application of the product. Routine wear and tear also causes small particles of the pavement (contaminated with PAHs) to run off and end up in nearby waterways harming aquatic life and increasing sediment cleanup costs. People, especially young children, who live by the treated pavements, can breathe in or accidentally ingest the dust and small particles contaminated with PAHs.

For someone who spends their entire lifetime living adjacent to coal tar sealcoated pavement, the average excess lifetime cancer risk is estimated to be 38 times higher than the urban background exposure. More than one-half of the risk occurs during the first 18 years of life, and most of it (84%) is from ingestion of soil. Williams, E.S., Mahler, B.J., and Van Metre, P.C. 2013. Cancer risk from incidental ingestion exposures to PAHs associated with coal-tar-sealed pavement. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 47 (2):1101-1109.

The news is not all bad, however. There is a safer alternative – asphalt sealcoat — which contains about a thousand times fewer of PAHs than coal tar sealcoats.

Freshwater Future is launching a new project aimed at reducing the use of coal tar sealcoats in the Great Lakes. As part of the project, we will be reaching out to communities, universities, suppliers and contractors to obtain their commitment to reduce or eliminate the use of coal tar sealcoats. “It’s astounding that this one product causes many risks and has slipped through the crack of regulation,” notes our Cheryl Kallio.“There are quick and easy things groups can do to join in these efforts.” The benefits are most definitely worth it – a cleaner and safer Great Lakes and healthier people, especially young children. Plus, we will help continue a positive trajectory of restoring the Great Lakes. To learn more about coal tar sealcoats, the problems they cause and how you can team up with Freshwater Future to help phase out and end the use of the product in our region, contact Cheryl Kallio at

Leelanau Clean Water and MLSA Region 9 Offer Water Issues Seminar

May 28, 2014 23:20


The biological control of the widespread zebra and quagga mussel infestation in inland lakes will be the focus of A Four Part Seminar: Water Issues For All of Us to be held on June 19th, Thursday from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM in the Community Meeting room, lower level, of the Leelanau County Government Center, 8527 E. Government Center Drive, Suttons Bay.

Health Phillips from Marrone Bio-Innovations and their Director of Inland Lake Applications for Zequanox, will share information on the extensive research and use of this biological control of zebra and quagga mussels in inland lakes.  Zequanox has proven to be a powerful tool for controlling these invasive mussels in cooling water-system pipes and now is being effectively used in open water as there are currently no other environmentally compatible treatment options. Zequanox is formulated from a common soil bacterium, Pseudomonas fluorescens.

Rob Karner, Glen Lake-Crystal River Biologist, will present A Shoreline Survey:  Why and How, and  Uses for the Completed Survey. 

Following a box lunch from the Riverfront Deli, Jim Olson, Environmental Attorney and Founder and President of FLOW, will lay out How to Enact Township Ordinances to Protect Communities From The Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing. 

Concluding the seminar Sarah Litch will present how to do a Baseline Study of Your Household and Ground Water Before Hydraulic Fracturing Occurs in Your Watershed and review a study done in the Glen Lake-Crystal River Watershed.

The seminar is free and open to the public.  To register and to reserve a lunch call Kristin Smith at the Government Center, 1-(231)-256-9812.  The box lunch is $10.00 payable at the seminar, sponsored by Leelanau Clean Water and Region 9 of the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations.

Invasive European frog-bit Rapidly Spreading Throughout Michigan

May 20, 2014 10:01

Michigan lakefront property owners would be well advised to keep a watchful eye out this spring and summer for yet another potentially harmful exotic aquatic invasive plant – European frog-bit (scientific name: Hydrocharis morsus-ranae).

Detected last summer near the Detroit River as well as within Saginaw Bay, Alpena and Munuscong Bay in Chippewa County,  the highly invasive free floating plant is native to Europe, Asia and Africa, and was intentionally imported to Canada from Europe in 1932 for commercial use as an ornamental plant.  European frog-bit has since spread to several rivers, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and many other inland waters within the Great Lakes region.

Capable of rapid growth rates, European frog-bit often forms dense floating mats that force out other beneficial native floating plants (like water lilies) and effectively prevents sunlight from reaching native submerged aquatic plants. Dense monotypic mats of European frog-bit may also impede navigation and interfere with recreational uses such fishing and swimming.

The invasive free floating plant may be easily identified by the presence of a single white flower of up to three quarters of an inch in width with three rounded petals and a yellow center. The leaves of European frog-bit are one to two inches wide and are round to heart-shaped. The leaf bottom is purple-red with a spongy coating along the middle vein of the leaf that allows it to float on the water.

If you should see this rapidly spreading invasive plant, note their location and the extent of the infestation, and then call the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Early Detection and Rapid Response coordinator at 517-641-4903 – ext. 260.

Most Wanted Aquatic Invasive Plants for Summer 2014

May 15, 2014 10:06



The Journey to Automation: The Glen Lake Story

April 3, 2014 10:26

by Cal Killen
Glen Arbor, Michigan

This is the story of how the Glen Lake Association (GLA) applied modern technology to their management of Glen Lake’s water level.  The results are more accurate water level control at substantially less cost, while making it safer and easier for personnel.  Along the way, they learned facts about the watershed system never known before.


 Glen Lake is one of Michigan’s finest lakes.  Actually a set of five connected lakes (Big Glen, Little Glen, Big Fisher, Little Fisher and Brooks) in northwest lower-Michigan, it covers about 6,000 acres at depths reaching 130 feet.  The output of Glen Lake is the source of the Crystal River which meanders five miles before emptying into Lake Michigan; only one mile away.  The flow into the Crystal River is controlled by a dam 18 feet wide with two independent swinging gates.  Atypical in Michigan, this dam is not controlled by a drain commissioner, but by members of the GLA, and it has been that way since the dam was built many years ago. So the GLA formed the Water Level Committee (WLC) in 1955 to manage the Glen Lake level and Crystal River flow as much as nature would allow. 

Law suits over the years have resulted in a court ordered set of rules for both the upper/lower bounds of Glen Lake’s water level and the Crystal River’s water flow minimums.  This means that lake-level/river-flow management is not a hobby for the GLA; it’s a legal mandate.  A court appointed Technical Committee keeps close watch on the lake-level/river-flow operations and reports status to the court annually.  To accommodate the legally mandated limits, the Technical Committee has approved a daily target lake level within a narrow tolerance.  The days of summer have a relatively high lake level target (good for boating, enjoying the beach and supplying water to the river during drought periods) and winter days have a low lake level target (to mitigate ice damage and minimize beach erosion).  The spring and fall days have targets that are a gradual transition between summer highs and winter lows.  Regardless of lake level, the river flow must be kept above a certain minimum water flow so as not to adversely affect the ecology of the river.

Chapter 1:  Determining Lake Level

The first thing required in lake-level/river flow management is to be able to determine the actual elevation of the lake level, and understand how it changes over time due to the various water inputs and outputs.  Only after having that information does one have a chance of  managing the balance of lake-level and river flow through dam gate settings.

For determining lake level, a set of three staff gauges were placed at strategic positions around the lakes to determine water levels.  These gauges were surveyed so the actual sea level elevation of the water can be calculated.  One of the staff gauges is the standard used for determining legal lake level.  Another is used as a backup.  The third is used to measure the water level at a location just upstream of the dam – where the water level can vary several inches lower than that at the other gauges.  Water levels are supposed to be measured and recorded at these points at least twice a week – more often when weather events dictate.  It is not always possible to read the gauges, however.  Sometimes windy conditions generate waves that make it impossible to take a precise reading of the staff gauge.  At other times, ice and snow obscure the markings on the staff gauge, making it equally impossible to determine an exact reading.   Often, the times when lake level knowledge is most important are the times when weather conditions are at their worst.  Going out to read the gauges during storms (especially in winter) can be a challenging task for the WLC members.

Chapter 2:  Automation Begins

Partly due to the fact that all the WLC members are dedicated volunteers who want precise measurements and partly because many of them are engineers and “tinkerers,” it was decided in 2010 to install an automatic lake level sensor.  The sensor was installed very close to the staff gauge used to determine the legal lake level elevation, and about three feet below the water’s surface.  Using a 100-foot underground cable, the sensor was attached to a communication station that contained a data logging device, a cellular modem, a battery and a solar cell. The sensor is an accurate pressure transducer which reads water depth, not elevation.   The sensor is compensated for atmospheric pressure changes.   Every 15 minutes the data logger records the “depth” of water over the sensor.  Every hour the modem is automatically turned on so a remotely located computer server can upload the latest depth readings.   The actual elevation of the sensor has been determined through comparison with the staff gauge readings, so this elevation can be added to the depth reading to get the actual lake level.

Using automatic sensors to gather lake level data proved to be very accurate and reliable.  The sensor is accurate to 1/8-inch and any fluctuations in the lake level due to wind gusts or waves are eliminated by averaging over time.  The WLC realized the advantage right away; the technique gave them accurate information on an hourly basis.  And with a new website, the information was available to all members without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Chapter 3.  The Website Begins

Turning “raw data” from both the automatic and manual gauges into “information” that can be used to make decisions was solved by the introduction of the WLC website.  Many thousands of lines of code were written to generate graphs and tables that make it easy to know things like:

  • Is the lake level on target?
  • Is the lake level trending in the right direction?
  • How long will it take before the lake level is in (or out) of target tolerance?
  • How much did it rain last night?

 The WLC soon developed a wide set of charts and graphs on the website that answered these questions quickly and accurately. What’s more, the information led to the discovery of facts about the lake never known before.  For example, the WLC discovered a resonance between Big and Little Glen – water sloshes back-and-forth under the Narrows Bridge about every 40 minutes.

Besides water level, the sensor also records water temperature.  Soon we were updating the GLA public website every hour with a posting that reflected current conditions.

 The sensor also records battery voltage in the station.  If the voltage goes below 12 v. the website automatically alerts the WLC with an email warning.  Most of the time this means someone has to brush the snow off of the solar cell.

Chapter 4:  Determining River Flow

A fourth staff gauge (called a “stream gauge”) was installed years ago in the Crysta River just downstream from the dam.  This gauge was used in conjunction with a U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) provided rating table to estimate Crysta River water flow.  This is a very common method for calculating river flow; the principle being that the higher the water level in the river, the higher the water flow.  One reads the stream gauge in the river and refers to the rating table, which then yields an estimated river flow.  But as nature would have it, the conditions of the river are always changing, and changes degrade the accuracy of this method.  Small effects can be due to natural changes in the river bed  and growth of vegetation on the banks of the river.  Larger effects can be due to trees and branches falling into the river (downstream or upstream), ice/snow in the river, and canoes banging in to the stream gauge.  One of the most common reasons for inaccurate river flow estimations was found to occur after a large rain event or snow melt.  Water flows into the river from various places below the dam which swells the river and causes this method to overestimate the flow over the dam by as much as 20%. 

Because conditions continually change, regular re-calibration of the adjustment factor applied to the stream gauge readings was required.  With a flow device, the USGS manually measured water flow in the river at a cross section just below the dam, taking measurements every foot at various depths.  These measurements were summed to produce an accurate river flow for that point in time.  Comparing that actual flow to the estimated flow from the rating table produced an adjustment or “shift” value for the WLC to use.  After a calibration, the WLC members could get an accurate river flow measurement at the dam by reading the stream gauge, adding or subtracting the “shift” and then applying that value to the rating table. Since the WLC wanted to be very precise on measuring water flow – especially at low flows when we were close to the court mandated minimum – calibrations were done five times a year at a cost of $3,000 every year to the Glen Lake Association

Unfortunately, the accuracy of the re-calibration proved to be short-lived.  As soon as the re-calibration was completed, the river would change.  When the WLC would get a new shift, especially one that was a significant change from the previous shift, they knew that they had been recording imprecise river flows for some unknown time and amount.  Besides that, no amount of calibration could result in accurate river flow measurements after a precipitation event mentioned above.  In addition, reading the stream gauge in wintertime was a chore at best and a safety hazard at worst.  WLC volunteers had to walk a distance through unfavorable terrain, stand on a sometimes ice-covered bank to read the stream gauge 10-feet out in the river.  The WLC started thinking about a better way to do business.

Chapter 5:  Making Dam Gate Adjustments

The Crystal River dam was first built in the early 1900’s and was originally adjusted by adding or removing boards a cross the dam.  The dam was remodeled in 2002 to allow for easier and finer adjustments.  Two 7 ½-foot wide gates were added side by side, hinged at the bottom and adjusted by winching them up or down.  The gates travel just under 24” from fully open to fully closed. 

To make a dam adjustment, one WLC member cranks the winch wheel while another WLC member measures the vertical distance between the gate and a reference point on the side of the dam.  A specially calibrated “yard stick”, complete with a leveling bubble, is used to make sure the measurements are accurate.  Eight rotations of the winch wheel results in about one inch of vertical movement of the gates, which affects the dam flow anywhere from three to 10 cubic feet per second (CFS).  After making an adjustment, the river needs some time to settle into its new level.  So after waiting 20 minutes  to allow for this settling, another reading is taken of the stream gauge, another calculation of the dam flow is made from the rating table, and additional adjustments are made as needed.  All of these measurements and adjustments are recorded and the data kept for years.

Chapter 6:  Automation Continues

Enthused with the results of the automatic sensor installed the year before, the WLC decided to take the much bigger step of fixing the problems related to calculating dam flow.  There were four parts to this solution:

1.  Install another automatic sensor 25 feet in front of the dam,

2.  Develop a weir equation that calculates dam flow given the gate setting,
water level and dam geometry, and

3.  Regularly compare river flows (using several manual methods) to the
weir equation spanning a year and over a wide range of flows to “tune”
the equation, and

4.  Report process and findings to the Technical Committee regularly.

Given the physical characteristics of the Crystal River dam,  the standard rectangular weir equation was applied:

Q = CŸ WŸ H 1.5


“CEis a constant (around 3.3) which was empirically determined by comparing manually determined water flow to calculated results.

“W” is the width of the dam gate.  Since the dam has two gates, the weir equation needed to be used twice, once for each gate.  The values are summed for the total river flow.  In this way, the gates can be set at far different elevations and the flow is calculated correctly.

“H” is the “head,” or difference in elevation between the water level above the dam and gate setting.  Note that calculating the head requires a modeling of gate setting to gate elevation.

In the fall of 2011, this automatic sensor was installed and calibration of the weir equation started.  Over the next year, using many manual river flow measurements from the USGS and the WLC at a broad range of flows, the weir equation was calibrated and found to be far more accurate than the stream gauge estimating method. 

 In the summer of 2013 the Technical Committee was convinced of the accuracy of the weir equation.  With their support, the court recognized the advancement and gave the WLC permission to use the weir equation for making dam setting decisions.

Chapter 7:  The Website Expands

The backbone to the WLC operations and automation is the website and the programming behind it.  There are several parts to the website:

  1. Graphs
    1. Lake levels, trends and targets
    2. River flow trends and limits
    3. Water temperature
    4. Battery voltage
    5. Precipitation events
    6. Calibration comparisons
  2. Charts
    1. Raw data storage and retrieval
    2. Current conditions at-a-glance
    3. Monthly reports
  3. Manual Input
    1. Staff gauge readings
    2. Dam settings
    3. Comments about current conditions
  4. Calculators
    1. River flow : Lake level : Dam setting
    2. Dam setting recommendations
  5. Team Membership
    1. Contact information
    2. Schedule of assignments
  6. Photos
  7. Documents

Besides the website, there are programs on the computer server that run automatically to update data, check for certain conditions, and send email alerts.  With these advancements in the website programming we updated the posting on the GLA public website to include river flow and precipitation events. 

Now that the website has been running for several years capturing data every 15 minutes, enough data exists to do some statistical analysis.  One of the calculators on the website allows the user to enter two of three values (river flow, lake level, dam setting) and it will produce the statistical plot of the third value.

Chapter 8:  Results

With the fine efforts of many WLC members, lake level management has been made easier, safer and more accurate.  It also pays for itself.  Since the flow estimating method is no longer used, there is no need for the USGS to make river flow re-calibrations.  By canceling that contract the WLC recaptured the expense of an automation station in a single year.  But there is more to be learned.  Now that data exists to be “mined,” the WLC can learn things like:

  • amount of groundwater in and out of the lake system
  • evaporation values
  • daily lake level targets to maximize water level and minimize shore   erosion
  • methods to minimize flooding of Crystal River

And with the capability of adding additional sensors to the system, the WLC can learn even more about water quality and the effects of different weather events.  We highly recommend using these methods for other lakes.

Michigan Legislature Considers Revisions to ANS Regulations

February 26, 2014 19:20

Senate Bill 444 Streamlines Processes and Authorizes Local Governments to Assess Public Boat Launch Fees

Introduced by Senator Tom Casperson in the summer of 2013, Senate Bill 444 provides common sense regulatory relief to lake associations and lake management companies seeking permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality authorizing the use of aquatic herbicides in controlling aquatic invasive species. The bill would also authorize local units of government to pass ordinances allowing the collection of boater access fees at some public boat launch facilities. Michigan Lake and Stream Associations and the Michigan Waterfront Alliance supports passage of this bill.  In our view, the language of Senate Bill 444 takes a modest, but nevertheless important step in improving Michigan’s collective response to an increasingly widespread aquatic invasive species problem. We strongly suggest that you contact your respective legislators to contribute your important voice to the support of Senate Bill 444.

To download a copy of Senate Bill 444,  click here

Mute Swans – What are Your Options?

February 3, 2014 09:34

By David Marks, Wildlife Biologist, USDA Wildlife Services

People live on the water for many reasons including the appeal of being close to nature. Mute swans are beautiful animals and many people appreciate having a family group to watch. But it is an invader to Michigan waters that may potentially threaten the natural value of the places you care about.And as the mute swan populations have grown, people are beginning to experience their negative effects on the environment, native wildlife, and even human safety. Destruction of native habitat is the primary concern about mute swans.Feeding on aquatic vegetation, a single bird can eat up to eight pounds per day. Thus, a large group of swans in an area can drastically affect the habitat that other wildlife species depend on. Additionally, the mute swans out-compete native species for resources, both food and breeding habitat.If your lake is highly developed and lacks native habitat and wildlife, you may wonder why mute swans should concern you.  Consider the bigger picture: the mute swans on your lake will continue to be a source of more mute swans, which will spill over into high-quality wildlife areas. 

Individual mute swans can also become hostile towards humans and pets.  This usually occurs in older male mute swans that are protecting their nests and cygnets.  As years go by, an individual male may become more and more assertive.Aggressive behavior may begin as simply hissing and swimming around a person to deter them. But sometimes the behavior escalates to flying at people when unprovoked or actually making contact with people, and the birds become a significant threat to human or pet safety.  If this situation does occur, a special permit can be issued to remove that particular aggressive swan.

Basically, two options exist for mute swan population control:  removing the birds or treating their eggs so they will not hatch.  Removing the birds is more effective as far as reducing the numbers of swans both on the site itself and the overall mute swan population in Michigan.However, some local residents may find it unacceptable because the birds will be killed.Egg treatments may be the only option acceptable to residents, and will gradually reduce the local mute swan population if conducted annually and will help reduce aggressive behavior towards humans during the summer.Relocation of mute swans is not an option because they are an invasive species and will just cause damage at another location or even fly back to the original site. 

Since 2006, USDA Wildlife Services has been working cooperatively with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in controlling the mute swan population throughout Michigan, with support from a broad range of stakeholders.  These include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, several Native American tribes, Ducks Unlimited, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Michigan and National Audubon Society, and the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association to name a few.  Wildlife Services conducts mute swan management through funding provided by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, at no cost to the landowner(s). In 2013, Wildlife Services conducted management and resolved mute swan conflicts at 76 sites throughout Michigan. 

If you would like to learn more about mute swan impacts and what options you have, you can turn to several resources.  The best resource is the State’s website at, which has the facts about mute swans, including a list of peer-reviewed scientific literature, as well as the laws and regulations and permit applications.  To discuss the specific issues of your mute swan situation, you can contact your local MDNR biologist (online list) or a USDA Wildlife Services biologist (517-336-1928).  USDA Wildlife Services works with the local parties to resolve their conflicts with mute swans and only conducts management actions at the request of the locals from that lake or river.

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