September 13, 2018 05:19

By Paul J. Sniadecki
MLSA Board Director


NOTE: Definition of “Benchmark” from Merriam-Webster:

a) something that serves as a standard by which others may be measured or judged;
b) a point of reference from which measurements may be made.

This monthly MLSA newsletter and The Michigan Riparian Magazine provide on-going coverage of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) issues around our home state of Michigan.  Most often the news has not been promising about actual preventative measures being deployed.  Many readers, including myself, have asked the questions:

  • Is Michigan doing enough to prevent AIS in its over 11,000+ inland lakes?
  • What are other states doing?

The truth is that many states have implemented pro-active and stringent requirements to stop AIS infection and contamination in their water bodies.  Perhaps the time has come for Michigan to rapidly “benchmark” relative to prevention practices occurring in other states, and then quickly implement even the most stringent legislation and administrative rules/procedures

In the real world, results-based leaders embrace bench marking.  They adapt and do what has been successful for others. Many times they also go a step beyond what the leaders are doing, as a tactic to become the new market/technology “leader.“   Results based leaders also rarely fall into the trap of “analysis paralysis.”

If the Michigan legislature and DNR/DEQ were to begin bench marking for AIS prevention for inland lakes, where are some of the obvious places to look?  The following is a brief synopsis of easily located information.  Most likely there are additional states with some of the following requirements in place, or are in the process of implementation:

FUNDING FOR AIS PREVENTION VIA WATER CRAFT STICKERS: Oregon, Idaho, Nebraska, Washington State, Nevada, and Minnesota.

MANDATORY AIS INSPECTIONS with DECONTAMINATION / DISINFECTION : Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Washington State, Lake George New YorkWyoming, Minnesota, Vermont,  Utah, and New Mexico.

 STATE FUNDING FOR AIS PREVENTION:  Since 2014, the Minnesota Legislature provides $10 Million to local counties for specific purpose of locally controlled activities for AIS prevention. Wisconsin uses $4.5 Million for AIS each year, sourced 100% from fuel gas tax.   California uses $5.98 Million for AIS prevention, with majority of the funds coming from water craft registrations and “mussel stickers.”

COORDINATED and FREE STATE WIDE ACTION FOR AIS: Since 2017, Minnesota University Extension has conducted a “Starry Trek” each August to search for infestations of the AIS Starry stonewort.  In 2018, 225 trained volunteers searched 187 lakes of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. They found one (1) new infestation which raised the Minnesota DNR maintained database total to 14 lakes with Starry stonewort .  The “trek” took place at essentially the same time around the state and generated media attention to the challenges presented by all AIS.  The Minnesota DNR maintains a verified database listing all water bodies in Minnesota that are AIS infested, with only less than 7% of Minnesota’s lakes on the infested waters list.

In summary, it is clear there are actions that Michigan can take to prevent the spread of AIS.  Is it time to benchmark?  What  can you do help make that happen?

Invasive red swamp crayfish able to thrive within the waters of Michigan

August 9, 2018 05:42

by Scott Brown
Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations
Executive Director

Author’s note: To view a well done report by WXYZ television regarding increasingly prolific invasive populations of red swamp crayfish appearing

in ponds located in the Detroit metropolitan area, click here

Extraordinarily abundant in the biologically diverse and highly productive marshes and swamps of the freshwater inundated Mississippi River delta region, red swamp crayfish have been serving as the miniature lobster-like “guests of honor” at south Louisiana “crawdad” boils for well over two centuries. The native distribution range of the red swamp crayfish stretches from the Gulf of Mexico coastal plain that extends from the Florida panhandle to northeast Mexico, and northward from the southern Mississippi River drainage area to Illinois and southwest Indiana (Nagy et al., 2015). Most abundant in the marshes and swamps of south central Louisiana (commonly referred to as bayous in southern Louisiana) (Hobbs, 1989, Taylor et al., 2007), the red swamp crayfish that have long since become a widely recognized symbol of Cajun-style cuisine have officially been introduced to the waters of Michigan. Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) aquatic biologists have confirmed the presence of the rapidly reproducing and often destructive invasive crayfish in Sunset Lake located near Vicksburg on the state’s west side, and in a retention pond located within the southeast Michigan City of Novi. Detections of the highly invasive red swamp crayfish in Michigan follows a July 2015 MDNR report that some anglers had illegally purchased the alien crayfish from food markets for use as a live bait, and of the detection of several dead specimens of the wayward crayfish in Ottawa County’s Lake Macatawa.

Frequently achieving extremely high density populations, crayfish are considered to be the largest and longest living of invertebrates that inhabit temperate freshwater environments (Gherardi and Acquistapace, 2007). Red swamp crayfish, scientific name Procambarus clarkii, are deep red in color and feature bright red raised spots that appear on their body and claws. Contributing to the ability of aquatic biologists and natural resource practitioners to positively identify “Louisiana mudbugs” in the field, red swamp crayfish are also endowed with a distinctive wedge-shaped black stripe on the top of their abdomen. Red swamp crayfish are voracious omnivores that readily and continuously feed upon fish eggs, aquatic plants, dead fish, and decaying organisms of all type. Ranging in overall length from two to five inches, red swamp crayfish are known to achieve body weights of just under two ounces in as little as three to five months from the time they hatch (Hentonnen and Huner, 1999).

Capable of flourishing in a wide range of freshwater habitats including swamps, marshes, wetlands, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and ditches hosting substrates consisting of soft sediments that are rich in organic debris (Huner and Barr, 1991), red swamp crayfish are capable of expeditiously altering or destroying the ecologically sensitive nearshore habitats that many native aquatic species depend upon for sustenance and survival (Gherardi, 2006). The red swamp crayfish is considered a highly effective ecosystem engineer due to their often noted ability to significantly modify surrounding physical habitat by building burrows in areas hosting fine sediments near the water’s edge. Consisting of a single opening and a tunnel that may extend fifteen to thirty five inches to the underlying water table, and that gradually expands into a larger “living” chamber (Correia and Ferreira, 1995; Huner and Barr, 1991), the self-constructed burrows of red swamp crayfish serve to protect the highly adept shellfish from intense mid-day sunlight, high air temperatures, and periods of extended drought (Ingle, 1997). The existence of physical habitat created by dense near-shore macrophyte growth, fallen logs, and/or other forms of woody structure may serve to increase the overall population density, and thus the foraging and burrowing activity of the notoriously disruptive freshwater crustacean (Correia and Ferreira, 1995).

The burrowing and foraging activities of the highly invasive Mississippi delta crayfish are also known to increase the likelihood and frequency of cyanobacteria blooms (Geiger et al., 2005; Yamamoto, 2010). The intensive burrowing activity of red swamp crayfish may have a negative impact on the water quality of the lakes, rivers, ponds, or reservoirs that they often colonize by causing the re-suspension of large volumes of fine particulate matter, therefore significantly reducing water clarity and the amount of sunlight that is available to support native submerged aquatic plants and a myriad of co-occurring native organisms that rely on aquatic plants for sustenance and survival (Rodríguez et al., 2005). Constructed in nearshore habitat areas hosting fine organic sediments, the abandoned burrows of the red swamp crayfish are known to cause the eventual collapse of river banks and other earthen structures (Barbaresi et al., 2004). In areas that are prone to significant water level fluctuations such as dams, levees, or irrigation systems, extensive networks of red swamp crayfish burrows are likely to damage the highly vulnerable structures through bank destabilization.

Due to their steadily increasing popularity as reasonably priced offerings on restaurant menus throughout Europe, red swamp crayfish have long since been the focus of aquaculture on the continent and currently represent approximately 90% of the total crayfish production in Europe (Perez et al., 1997; Ackefors, 1999). Since the 1950s red swamp crayfish have also been intentionally introduced to over twenty five countries around the world including several African nations where they have been the focus of commercial cultivation (Gherardi et al., 1999). In locations where the rapidly reproducing North American crustacean has been accidentally or intentionally introduced, red swamp crayfish have succeeded in creating sustainable breeding populations (Gherardi et al., 2007). Freshwater ecosystems that have been successfully colonized by the species are also known have experienced bio-diversity loss and severe habitat degradation (Gherardi, 2006). The rapidly expanding invasive range of the destructive crayfish in south-central Europe, for example, has contributed to decreasing rates of bio-diversity and habitat degradation in a steadily increasing number of freshwater systems that have undergone colonization (Gherardi, 2006).

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources asks that residents and visitors to the Sunset Lake area try to capture any red swamp crayfish they find and place them in a container in the freezer, then report the location of the find to the DNR at 269-685-6851, ext. 0, or by email to Sightings of red swamp crayfish in the Novi area or elsewhere in Michigan should be photographed and reported with the date and location of the find to



 Ackefors, H. (1999). The positive effects of established crayfish introductions in Europe. In Gherardi, F. and Holdich, D.M. (Eds.) Crustacean Issues, 11: Crayfish in Europe as Alien Species (How to make the best of a bad situation?) A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 49-61.

Anastácio, P. M., Parente, V. S., & Correia, A. M. (2005). Crayfish effects on seeds and seedlings: identification and quantification of damage. Freshwater Biology 50, 697-704.

Angeler, D. G., Sanchez-Carrillo, S., García, G., & Alvarez-Cobelas, M. (2001). The influence of Procambarus clarkii (Cambaridae, Decapoda) on water quality and sediment characteristics in a Spanish floodplain wetland. Hydrobiologia 464, 89-98.

Barbaresi, S., Tricarico, E. & Gherardi, F. (2004). Factors inducing the intense burrowing activity of the red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, an invasive species. Naturwissenschaften 91, 342-345.

Correia, A. M., and Ferreira, O. (1995). Burrowing behavior of the introduced red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii (Decapoda: Cambaridae) in Portugal. Journal of Crustacean Biology 15, 248-257.

Geiger, W., Alcorlo, P., Baltanas, A., & Montes, C. (2005). Impact of an introduced Crustacean on the trophic webs of Mediterranean wetlands. Biological Invasions 7, 49-73.

Gherardi, F. & Acquistapace, P. (2007). Invasive crayfish in Europe: the impact of Procambarus clarkii on the littoral community of a Mediterranean lake. Freshwater Biology 52, 1249-1259.

Gherardi, F. & Lazzara, L. (2006). Effects of the density of an invasive crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) on pelagic and surface microalgae in a Mediterranean wetland. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie 165, 401-414.

Henttonen, P. & Huner, J. V. (1999). The introduction of alien species of crayfish in Europe: a historical introduction. Pages 13-22 in F. Gherardi, and D. M. Holdich, editors. Crustacean issues 11: Crayfish in Europe as alien species (how to make the best of a bad situation?). A. A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Hobbs III, H. H. (1993). Trophic relationships of North American freshwater crayfish and shrimps. Contributions in Biology and Geology, 85, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Hobbs III, H. H., Jass J. P., & Huner J. V. (1989). A review of global crayfish introductions with particular emphasis on two North American species (Decapoda, Cambaridae). Crustaceana 56, 299-316.

Huner, J. V. & Barr, J. E. (1991). Red Swamp Crayfish: Biology and Exploitation. 3rd Edition. Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 128 pp.

Ingle, R. W. (1997). Crayfishes, lobsters, and crabs of Europe: an illustrated guide to common and traded species. Springer, Berlin.

Lodge D. M., Taylor, C. A., Holdich, D. M., & Skurdal, J. (2000). Non-indigenous crayfishes threaten North American freshwater biodiversity: lessons from Europe. Fisheries 25, 7-20.

Lowery R. S. & Mendes A. J. (1977). Procambarus clarkii in Lake Naivasha, Kenya, and its effects on established and potential fisheries. Aquaculture 11, 111-121.

Mueller, G. A., Carpenter, J., & Thornbrugh, D. (2006). Bullfrog tadpole (Rana catesbeiana) and red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) predation on early life stages of endangered razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus). The Southwestern Naturalist 51(2), 258-261.

Perez, J. R., Carral, J. M., Celada, J. D., Saez-Royuela, M., Munoz, C., & Sierra, A. (1997). Current status of astaciculture production and commercial situation of crayfish in Europe. Aquaculture Europe 22, 6-13.

Taylor, C. A., Schuster, G. A., Cooper, J. E., DiStefano, R. J., Eversole, A. G., Hamr, P., Hobbs III, H. H., Robison, H. W., Skelton, C. E., & Thoma, R. F. (2007). A reassessment of the conservation status of crayfishes of the United States and Canada after 10+ years of increased awareness. Fisheries 32 (8), 372-389.

Yamamoto, Y. (2010). Contribution of bioturbation by the red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii to the recruitment of bloom forming cyanobacteria from sediment. Journal of Limnology 69 (1), 102-111.


New Officers for the MLSA Board of Directors

July 23, 2018 09:45

By Paul J Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director


The MLSA Board of Directors met in June 2018 and took action to fill the organization’s Officer Positions pursuant to our organization’s By-Laws.

Mike Gallagher, Gull Lake, was elected as the new MLSA President, and John Wilks, Indian Lake, was elected as the new Vice-President.

Beth Cook, the current Board Treasurer, continues in that Officer position, as does Nancy Beckwith who continues as an Officer and Board Secretary.  The current term of office for all MLSA Officers extends through December 31, 2019.

Mike Gallagher has been a Riparian Property Owner since 1954, Long-term Board Member of the Gull Lake Quality Organization and the Four Townships Water Resources Council, and a Board Member on several Non-Profit organizations. Mike is also a 2015 graduate Michigan Lake and Stream Leaders Institute and a CLMP Volunteer since 2008.

John Wilks has been a Riparian Property Owner since 1984, President of the Indian Lake Association of Vicksburg from 2008-2014, and a CLMP Volunteer since 2004.  John earned a Ph.D. from Cornell University and is retired after serving 32 Years as a Research Scientist for drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry.

The MLSA Board of Directors looks forward to the leadership and vision that these four well qualified Officers bring to the stewardship mission of MLSA.

Direct contact information for MLSA Officers and Board Directors can be located in the first few pages of THE RIPARIAN Magazine, published quarterly.

Stewardship, and the Michigan August 2018 Primary

July 22, 2018 12:54

By Paul J. Sniadecki
MLSA Board Director

In less than a month, on Tuesday, August 8, 2018, citizens of our state go to the polls for the 2018 Michigan Primary Election. We will be electing candidates for the November 2018 General Election. The races include the Governor spot, as well as many Representatives and Senators in the Michigan Legislature. There are also some Federal Senator and House of Representative positions involved.

Michigan is one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country (NATION Magazine, Aug 29, 2017), which makes the Primary a crucial time to “get out the vote” so we can elect officials who will seek to protect water and the many issues that might impact fellow waterfront property owners. Because gerrymandering facilitates the election of “certain candidates” in the fall General Election, the way to override such calculated action is by electing the better candidates in August.

If the candidates on “your ballot” are already proven advocates for water conservation and”lake-friendly” action, please support them in every aspsect possible.  As a “Great Lakes State  hosting over 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan is in bad need of political candidates that understand the importance of environmental regulation, and of the need to reinvest in our freshwater related infrastucture.  When candidates knock on your door, participate in public debates, or hold rallies, ask them their position on inland lake focused issues such as short-term rentals, uniform septic/sewage regulations, large quantity water withdrawals, stable funding for the MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, aquatic invasive species management related issues and other water related issues you care about. Be sure to share their answers with other members of your lake association and family/friends who are registered to vote.

As the entertainer Milton Berle always said:  “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” As stewards of our inland lakes, we build the “door” when we raise water and lake issues with the Michigan Primary Election candidates, and then vote accordingly. By taking action in your voting district we can advance the opportunity for stewardship throughout Michigan. It takes a little effort now, which is a sound investment in the future our lakes and water.

Lake Residents Work Together to Save the MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program from Termination – More Focus is Needed

July 7, 2018 21:36

by Lon Nordeen, MLSA Board member

Inland lake volunteers have been monitoring water quality in Michigan since 1974 as a part of the Self-Help program. In 2003, former Governor Jennifer Granholm created the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) (by Executive Order #2003-15), a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) program funded through the Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI), which included the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program (VSMP), and the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP).  The highly successful Michigan Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program has expanded to volunteers on more than 300 lakes across Michigan who perform a wide range of annual water quality testing. MiCorps, and many other monitoring and environmental protection efforts have been supported by Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) bond funds which are nearly exhausted.

Despite the long-term success of the Michigan CLMP and other water resource protection programs, additional funding had not been allocated to sustain these programs by the state legislature. Governor Snyder and members of the MI Senate and House proposed SB 943 to create funds for various long-term water and environmental protection programs (including MiCorps). This bill was based on a proposed increase in fees for waste hauling and disposal, however, the bill did not pass.

The MLSA, Michigan Waterfront Alliance, and many lake associations and lake residents sprang into action in an attempt to try and save the CLMP from termination. Hundreds of letters were sent to Governor Snyder, the executive level of the MI DEQ, DNR, and most importantly members of the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives.  Many lake residents called or visited their elected officials to focus attention of their concerns about the possible end of the CLMP program and inland lake protections.

This concentrated call for help worked! THANK YOU for your support! The Legislature required that the DEQ utilize $150,000 of its existing budget for the CLMP in 2019.  However, a long-term funding solution is required to maintain these programs. Readers should know that Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations and the Michigan Waterfront Alliance are committed to working with Michigan’s executive branch, the state legislature, and the senior leadership of the Department of Environmental Quality in creating a long-term sustainable funding source for this nationally recognized citizen volunteer based inland lakes water quality monitoring program.

The Success of Michigan’s Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program

July 7, 2018 21:03

Note to readers: This article originally appeared in the June 2017 Washington State Lake Protective Association Waterline Newsletter.

Joy Ramstack Hobbs has been working with the WALPA Volunteer Lake Monitoring committee to further their efforts in starting a statewide lake monitoring program.  One of the first tasks has been to research successful programs in other states.  Below is a summary of Michigan’s Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program.

Michigan has had a successful volunteer monitoring program since 1974.  Throughout the program’s history, its focus has been on volunteers, both in collecting data of interest to the public, and educating citizens on lake ecology and management. The program is administratively complex, but is designed to be easy for volunteers to navigate. Numerous training manuals and videos are available on the website, and the on-line database is user-friendly. One of the program staff, Dr. Jo Latimore, was extremely helpful in answering questions about the program and providing advice for WALPA.


  • Measure baseline water quality and document water quality trends on participating lakes
  • Educate the public in lake ecology, lake management practices, and procedures for collecting water quality data
  • Build public support for lake quality protection and encourage sound lake management practices.
  • Provide a cost-effective way for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to increase baseline water quality data for inland lakes statewide.


  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
  • Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps)
  • Great Lakes Commission (GLC)
  • Huron River Watershed Council
  • Michigan Lake and Stream Association (MLSA)
  • Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Fish and Wildlife

History and structure

The Michigan DEQ currently administers the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP) jointly with the Michigan Lake and Stream Association (MLSA). The CLMP currently operates as a program under the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps), Michigan’s volunteer surface water monitoring network.

The Michigan DEQ began citizen-based volunteer monitoring in 1974 with the Self-Help program, making Michigan’s volunteer lake monitoring program the second-oldest in the country. When the program started, only Secchi depth was monitored. In 1992, in cooperation with the MLSA, the program expanded to include TP measurements and was renamed the CLMP (additional parameters have since been added). Since the early 2000’s, CLMP has been a program under MiCorps, which also administers a volunteer stream-monitoring program.

MiCorps was created in 2003 to help the DEQ collect and share water quality data to use in water resources management and protection programs. The Great Lakes Commission partners with the Huron River Watershed Council and MLSA to develop, implement, and administer MiCorps, under the direction of the DEQ and with the advice of a steering committee.  Michigan State University’s Department of Fish and Wildlife also provides technical assistance for CLMP.


Since the program’s beginnings, funding for MiCorps/CLMP comes from the state, through the Michigan DEQ. The current contract from the DEQ was granted to the GLC for a three year program at a cost of $695,000, which funds both the lake and stream monitoring programs. Included in the contract is $160,000 for GLC staff salaries and benefits, as well as a subcontract to the Huron River Watershed Council (about $200,000, primarily for the stream monitoring program), a subcontract to MLSA (about $100,000) and a subcontract to Michigan State University. Program staff Jo Latimore said that although the budget includes money for items like facilities for volunteer trainings, the majority of the $695K covers personnel costs.

Beyond the $695K contract, the DEQ also contributes a staff person working with MiCorps (roughly half-time) and the cost of sample analysis (TP and chlorophyll a).

The CLMP does charge its volunteers to participate. The most basic enrollment (Secchi depth only) is $40 per year, and there are additional charges for each parameter, covering the costs of supplies and mailing. Jo estimates that the average group pays about $150 per year for monitoring one lake. The training sessions, as well as access to MiCorps staff, are free to all volunteers. Jo believes that charging participants often leads to an increased level of commitment, and CLMP hasn’t seen a downside. The program was created to educate citizens and having them participate in lake management; they pay a modest amount for that education and participation.

Parameters Monitored, Monitoring Frequency, and Participant Fees

  • Basic Parameters (New and experienced participants may enroll)
    • Secchi disk transparency: $40 (weekly, mid-May through mid-September)
    • TP: $25 per sampling (two samples collected; spring overturn and late summer)
    • Lakeshore Habitat Assessment: $25
    • Exotic aquatic plant watch: $25
  • Advanced Parameters (Participants can enroll after one or more years in the CLMP)
    • Chlorophyll a: $60 (once per month, May through September)
    • Dissolved oxygen/temperature: $50 (profiles every two weeks from mid-May through mid-September)
    • Aquatic plant identification and mapping: $250 first year, $50 subsequent years

While the monitoring frequencies listed above are considered ideal, MiCorps will accept data collected less frequently.

MiCorps has extensive on-line training manuals (and videos) that could be very useful for WALPA.

Data Handling

Data is handled through the MiCorps Data Exchange (MDE) platform; MDE provides online access to data through a searchable database.  The MDE accepts data from CLMP volunteers and from other groups, and categorizes the data based on how it is collected.

The database is available through the MiCorps website (; it’s easy to view online or extract to Excel.  All CLMP participants have a username and password and are encouraged to enter their own data, but MiCorps staff will help with data entry when necessary.

End Users

The primary users of the MiCorps dataset are the volunteers themselves. Additionally, the DEQ uses some of the data in its reporting to the EPA, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources uses it for information on managing fisheries and fish stocking decisions. Researchers working with MSU and other universities to build a large database of lake monitoring data have been pleased with the quality of the MiCorps data and it has been included in their study.

In some cases, CLMP volunteers have collaborated with researchers who have proposed extra data collections; these additions have worked well, but Jo cautions that MiCorps staff has been protective of its volunteers and their needs. For example, staff makes sure that researchers provide summary reports in a timely fashion so that the volunteers benefit from their involvement.

Number of Volunteers

In 2015, 396 volunteers monitored 230 lakes under the program.

Number of Staff

There are five MiCorps staff members (each affiliated with one of the partner agencies), who provide a joint estimated time commitment of 1.9 FTE.

  Advice for WALPA

Jo Latimore had several pieces of advice for WALPA about starting a volunteer lake monitoring program:

  • Be careful about the number of monitoring parameters the group starts with; don’t take on too much at once.
  • Create a clear structure within which volunteers can successfully and comfortably work.
  • Determine with the volunteers how the program should expand. When MiCorps was looking to add another monitoring parameter, they asked the volunteers, who overwhelmingly agreed on adding a shoreline assessment.
  • Do not underestimate the amount of staff time it takes to recruit, register and retain volunteers and answer their questions.
  • Key to volunteer retention is direct access to program staff who respond promptly.
    The social benefits of the program (provided by training sessions and an annual conference) have been valuable in recruiting and keeping dedicated volunteers.


“Of Mosquitoes and Killer Bees”

June 14, 2018 07:11

By Clifford H. Bloom, Esq.
Bloom Sluggett Morgan, PC
Grand Rapids, Michigan

There have been many headaches for lakefront property owners in Michigan over the years, particularly with regard to the latest watercraft “toy”.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the main safety problem on inland lakes was speed boats (with or without water skiers) operated in a fast or unsafe fashion.  During the 1980’s, the proliferation of jet skis or personal watercraft struck many riparians as a nuisance and safety hazard.  Today, riparians are becoming increasingly concerned about the popularity of “wave boats” (also sometimes referred to as bladder boats, wave runner boats or wakeboard boats).  Unfortunately, the impact of wave boats on Michigan inland lakes appears to be dramatically worse than the negative consequences of personal watercraft and conventional speed boats.  As one law enforcement officer put it, personal watercraft are mosquitoes and problem speed boats are bumble bees, while wave boats are African killer bees!

What is a wave boat?  It is a watercraft of speed boat size (or slightly larger in some cases) that uses mechanical means to fill reservoirs (sometimes called “bladders”) with water or other liquid to increase the boat’s weight and mass, and to raise or lower the boat in the water.  Depending upon how a wave boat is operated, it can throw a tremendous wake and create huge artificial waves.  In fact, such boats are actually designed and intended to throw huge waves.  That is part of the fun associated with these watercraft – they create waves that can be “surfed” by water skiers or wake boarders.

There are three major concerns regarding the use of wave boats in inland lakes.  First, on many lakes, they have had severe negative environmental impacts.  If one of the purposes of a wave boat is to create huge waves, that goal has proven all too successful!  On some lakes, wave boats have caused considerable erosion along the shoreline and banks of the lake.  Many riparian landowners have had to install new seawalls, rocks and other shoreline protection devices to protect against the huge waves and wakes intentionally generated by wave boats.  Some riparians have even had to install larger seawalls to guard against increased erosion, as their existing seawalls are not adequate.  Wave boats also keep the water “churned up,” particularly in shallower areas, thus disturbing plant life, fish, aquatic insects and other natural lake organisms.

The second negative impact of wave boats is property destruction (beyond the negative impacts of erosion).  Riparians throughout the state have reported instances of moored boats being swamped, boat tether lines snapping, adjoining anchored boats being slammed into each other and similar property destruction caused by the huge waves generated by wave boats.

The third and final problem associated with wave boats involves safety.  There have been reports throughout Michigan of people being thrown off swim rafts and even other boats due to the waves generated by a wave boat passing too close.  The risk for bodily injury and even death to others associated with wave boats passing too close to (or even running into) other boats, swim rafts, fishing boats, or swimmers is obvious.

Can anything be done to solve the problems associated with wave boats?  Many believe that wave boats should only be operated on the Great Lakes (and at some distance from the shore) or in very large inland lakes far away from the shore.  However, there is no statute in Michigan that regulates or treats wave boats differently than conventional speed boats or pontoons.  For decades, it has been the general policy of the State of Michigan not to “discriminate” against any particular type of boat or watercraft.  A cynic might say that state officials believe that any type of substantial regulation of watercraft (including even potentially dangerous watercraft) would adversely impact tourism.

It is likely that the most practical way of minimizing the adverse impacts of wave boats is to vigorously enforce state boating laws.  For example, any type of motor or power boat operated at greater than a slow or no-wake speed must remain at least 100 feet away from the shore, a dock or swim raft, a marked swim area, a swimmer or an anchored vessel.  Both careless and reckless use of a watercraft are illegal.  Water skiers and wakeboard users must also generally remain at least 100 feet away from any dock, swimming area or an anchored vessel.  If such regulations are vigorously enforced, it could minimize the dangerous aspects of wave boats and even lessen shoreline erosion, but not completely solve the problem.

In addition, associations for lakes with heavy power boat usage (including potentially, wave boats) should consider “purchasing” extra sheriff marine safety patrol hours.  That is a fairly common practice for many populated lakes throughout Michigan.  The physical presence of law enforcement officials on a given lake normally does have a big impact upon boating speed and safety.

Some owners of wave boats argue that it is not fair to “profile” or “discriminate against” a particular type of watercraft.  However, it cannot be denied that the impacts of wave boats on inland lakes in Michigan (particularly, smaller lakes) can be much more severe than conventional speed boats.  Few would argue that it would be appropriate to use a huge cabin cruiser or a “cigar” power boat in a small inland lake.  Highly specialized race cars of the type used at the Indianapolis 500 or the Daytona 500 races could be driven on the streets of a residential subdivision, but that certainly would not be safe or reasonable!  The problems associated with wave boats are different from other watercraft, not only in kind but also in magnitude and intensity.

Update: Legislation that May Impact Lakefront Property Owners in Michigan

June 14, 2018 06:37

By Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

This article was written to update readers about legislation previously reported on within past editions of this newsletter or within The Michigan Riparian magazine:


Introduced on February 22, 2018, the bill was referred to the House committee on Natural Resources. Subsequent Public Hearings occurred with the Farm Bureau supporting the reduction in process review steps, and the non-disclosure of certain water data  Numerous organizations, including Trout Unlimited and the nonprofit For the Love Of Water (FLOW) , opposed the Bill because of the potential impact on groundwater and waterways.

Up to this point, anyone seeking to siphon more than 100,000 gallons per day of groundwater, water from our rivers, or the Great Lakes, must receive approval and report the amount of water they use to the DEQ, under requirements of the multi-state Great Lakes Compact (2008).  Data from such withdrawals is also generally publicly available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

On May 16, 2018, the House passed Substitute Bills H-3 and H-5, which scaled back some of the initially proposed relaxation of regulations and data secrecy provisions. The House and Senate votes were overwhelmingly in favor of the modified water withdrawal requirements. The fast moving legislation reached Governor Snyder’s desk on June 11, 2018, and it is unknown if he will sign it.  Future articles in this newsletter or the RIPARIAN magazine will provide more information as it becomes available.

SHORT-TERM RENTALS – House Bill 4503 (2017) and Senate Bill 329 (2017)

Since 4/25/2017, HB4503 has been referred to House Committee on Tourism and Outdoor Recreation with no subsequent action taken by the Michigan House. Likewise the companion Senate Bill 0329 (2017) has been referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government, with no subsequent action taken by the Michigan Senate.

Around the state, supporters, and opponents of the proposed legislation remain vocal about the proposed laws designed to pre-empt local zoning control of such property uses.   The Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association both oppose the legislation because, as written, the State would permit such rentals in most zoning districts.

The city of Grand Haven MI, on the sunset coast of Michigan, is a recent example of how local government worked with property owners for several months, and received significant public input, before implementing an ordinance regulating short-term rentals in a manner that permitted rentals in certain zoning districts, while also prohibiting short-term rentals in several neighborhoods.

Legislative observers believe the matter is still pending and could see action sometime before the December 2018 House and Senate recess.

UNIFORM SEPTIC CODE – House Bills 5752 and 5753

On March 22,2018 House Bills 5752 and 5753 were referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.  The Bills would add Part 128 (Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems) to the Public Health Code to establish state and local standards for onsite wastewater treatment systems (commonly called septic systems)

Septic systems are a form of onsite sewage treatment common in rural Michigan communities, homes surrounding lakes/streams, and throughout some suburban communities as well. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) estimates there are 130,000 failing systems currently operating in Michigan. That represents about 1-in-10 of more than 1.3-million systems installed statewide.  The DEQ further estimates that Michigan’s numerous failing septic systems release upwards of 31 million gallons of raw sewage every day into our groundwater, which then can enter our lakes and streams/rivers. Yet, Michigan is the only state in the country without a uniform septic code.

 House Representatives Hammoud and Lower introduced the Bills, with no other sponsors.  No hearing dates have been set as of June 14, 2018.

An Open Letter to the Michigan State Waterways Commission

June 12, 2018 07:08

By Scott Brown

Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations
Executive Director

For over sixty years, our members, lakefront property owners and their respective lake associations have voluntarily placed themselves at the forefront of a seemingly never ending battle with an increasingly widespread and destructive array of exotic aquatic invasive species. Through self-imposed Special Assessment Districts that fund local efforts to mitigate the harmful influences of the invasive plants and animals that have entered their lakes primarily through public boating access sites, lake associations have placed themselves at the epicenter of efforts to preserve and protect the recreational and economic value of thousands of Michigan’s inland lakes. In 2017, for example, lakefront property owners contributed over 30 million dollars to fund efforts to control the harmful influences of invasive species. The heroic efforts of Michigan’s lake associations have made significant contributions to helping preserve viable recreational boating and fishing opportunities for hundreds of thousands of members of the general public, robust outdoor activities that generate approximately five billion dollars annually in support of Michigan’s economy.

It is unfortunate to note, however, that after more than seventy years since the first introductions of aquatic invasive species to Michigan waters, our state government has yet to enact legislation that would create an effective and sustainable aquatic invasive species management funding mechanism that would serve to redistribute a sizable, though equitable portion of the financial burden for the cost of aquatic invasive species management to Michigan’s expansive public recreational boating and fishing communities. For far too long, Michigan lake communities have been asked to singularly shoulder the entire burden of aquatic invasive species management while the recreational boating and fishing public as well as citizen stakeholders who continue to reap the benefits of navigable waters and good fishing have not been asked to contribute a fair and equitable amount with which to help support and sustain these efforts. In an era defined by the increasing inability to identify a single public boating access enabled inland lake within Michigan that is not currently hosting one or more exotic aquatic invasive species, it is evident that secondary dispersal enabled by transient recreational watercraft has resulted in a dramatic expansion of the scale of exotic aquatic species invasions.

Occurring in a rapidly expanding stepping-stone fashion, inland lakes that have hosted successful introductions of exotic aquatic invasive species, and that also host public boating access facilities, are known to serve as regional source hubs for the secondary dispersal of those species. Scientists, ecologists, and water resource managers throughout the state have acknowledged that on-going bio-invasions being perpetrated by highly aggressive and rapidly colonizing aquatic invasive plants such as Starry stonewort will ultimately require significantly greater public funding as well as intensive collaboration between state government and water resource stakeholders in order to mitigate their increasingly widespread deleterious influences.

In light of these indisputable facts, Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations, in partnership with the Michigan Waterfront Alliance, respectively encourages the Michigan State Waterways Commission to join us in working collaboratively in seeking viable solutions to the single most important problem confronting our vast treasure of inland lakes. While we are encouraged by, and are thankful for the opportunity to work with the senior leadership of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division within the context of a newly formed AIS Task Force, we recognize that the challenge of preventing or of slowing the spread of exotic invasive species within our inland waters represents a daunting task. We recognize, for example, that without sufficient funding to sustain the level of statewide effort that will ultimately be required to address this steadily escalating water resources management problem, our efforts are destined to fail. For this reason, we would encourage members of the Waterways Commission to work with us in encouraging the state legislature to appropriate substantially greater aquatic invasive species management funding, and/or to enact legislation that would establish a sustainable funding mechanism, such as a specially designated aquatic invasive species prevention and management watercraft registration fee, that in our opinion should also include the hundreds of thousands of small personal watercraft such as kayaks that are also known to facilitate new invasive species introductions.

It has been suggested that grossly inadequate aquatic exotic invasive species prevention funding places all of us in the untenable position of having to passively accept new introductions, and their often harmful economic and ecological consequences. Failure to effectively respond to this on-going crisis will result in a significant increase in both the frequency and scale of exotic aquatic species invasions that occur in Michigan waters. We would like members of the Waterways Commission to know that Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations, and the Michigan Waterfront Alliance are fully committed to expending the time, energy, and resources that will be necessary to accomplish these goals on behalf our vast treasure of freshwater gems. Thank you for your attention.

Read the Spring 2018 MI Chapter, North American Lake Management Society Newsletter

May 27, 2018 09:10

The Spring 2018 edition of the Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society Newsletter is now


available by clicking here….

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