By NIKKI YOUNK
STAMBAUGH TOWNSHIP - With the return of warm weather, many boaters are looking forward to getting back on the water.
Jerry Cederna of Iron River washes his boat after visiting Hagerman Lake in Iron County’s Stambaugh Township. The new boat wash station was constructed last fall, and finishing touches were applied earlier this spring.
However, boating in multiple lakes without taking proper precautions carries the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species like milfoil and zebra mussels.
Steps are being taken at two lakes in Iron County's Stambaugh Township to prevent and treat invasive species infestations.
Boaters at Hagerman Lake, located in the southwest part of the county, will have a new way to combat the spread of invasives this summer.
Using funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Ottawa National Forest has constructed a boat washing station at the Hagerman Lake day-use recreation area.
The station includes a hose reel, building with a water tank and pump, and a sign with instructions for operating the washer.
Ian Shackleford, botanist with the Ottawa National Forest, said that the proper cleaning of boats helps to prevent lake-to-lake spread of invasives.
"Washing your boat will also help you comply with Michigan and Wisconsin laws that prohibit moving or launching a boat or trailer with aquatic plants attached," he explained.
Hagerman Lake is currently free of invasive species, but it was not always that way.
"In 2009, a small amount of zebra mussels were discovered in Hagerman Lake," said Shackleford. "Around that time, there was an opportunity to receive funding for this (boat washing station) and similar projects through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative."
"Hagerman Lake was well-suited for this facility because water was already available from an existing well, electricity was available nearby, and because of our ongoing partnership work with the Hagerman Lake Property Owners Association," he added.
No zebra mussels have been found in Hagerman Lake since 2009.
Shackleford pointed out that even though the lake is now invasive-free, boaters still need to use the boat washing station.
"Many of the lakes around Hagerman are already infested with Eurasian water milfoil," he explained.
One of those lakes is Chicagon Lake, which is located in the south central part of the county.
Unlike Hagerman Lake, Chicagon Lake is not located within the Ottawa National Forest.
Stambaugh Township Supervisor Eugene Pellizzaro reported that Chicagon Lake currently contains about 18 acres of milfoil.
In order to pay for the annual milfoil treatments, Stambaugh Township enacted a ordinance last year requiring boaters on Chicagon Lake to buy permits.
Pellizzaro said that the ordinance remains in effect for this year.
Permits can be purchased at the Pentoga Park concession stand.
Costs are as follows:
- For riparians, a daily permit for small craft is $5, a daily permit for large craft is $10, a one-year permit for small craft is $20, a one-year permit for large craft is $30, a three-year permit for small craft is $50, and a three-year permit for large craft is $75.
- For non-riparians, a daily permit for small craft is $5, a daily permit for large craft is $10, a one-year permit for small craft is $30, a one-year permit for large craft is $40, a three-year permit for small craft is $75, and a three-year permit for large craft is $100.
According to Pellizzaro, the ordinance raised more than $12,000 last year. With the ordinance money, a $5,000 grant, and donations from property owners, there is $24,000 to put toward milfoil treatments at Chicagon Lake this year.
Pellizzaro said that the amount will be enough to treat about 14 acres of milfoil.
Iron County will also be conducting milfoil treatment at Chicagon Lake this summer, but only in the area of the county-owned Pentoga Park beach and boat launch. The county's method of treatment consists of manual removal of milfoil through diver-assisted suction harvesting.
Although Chicagon Lake does not have a boat washing station, boaters can still take precautions to prevent the further growth of milfoil in the lake, and to avoid spreading the milfoil to other lakes.
Shackleford recommended that after boating on lakes that do not have boat washing stations, boaters should inspect their boats and trailers and remove all aquatic plants, drain all water from the boats, including the bilge and live well, and allow boats and trailers to dry for a least five days before launching them into another lake.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is email@example.com.