Five Lakes Association asks for help to save lake

By Pat Maurer

Review Correspondent

Members of the Five Lakes Association asked the Grant Township Board to help them “save the lake” at the meeting Monday evening.

Dave Southworth, president of the Association said the lake is suffering from “a serious infestation of milfoil.”

According to the Department of Ecology in Washington State, Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) is an attractive plant with feathery underwater foliage. It was once commonly sold as an aquarium plant. Eurasian watermilfoil, commonly called milfoil, originates from Europe and Asia, but was introduced to North America many years ago and is now found over much of the United States. The introduction of milfoil can drastically alter a water body’s ecology. Milfoil forms very dense mats of vegetation on the surface of the water. These mats interfere with recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, water skiing, and boating. Once milfoil becomes well-established within a water body, it is difficult or impossible to remove.

“Five Lakes is the only all sports lake with a public boat launch in Grant Township,” Southworth said. “The public boat launch is the reason we have this problem. It will require robust lake treatment just to get it under control.”

Southworth said the board had contributed to lake treatments in the past. “In 2004-05, the board paid 60 percent of the treatment cost. In 2005-06 the township paid 52 percent.”

Association member Tim O’Neal added, “There’s no way to eradicate this, we can only control it. We’ve budgeted $10,000 to treat as much of the lake as possible.” He said a fall survey discovered “the milfoil growing in areas where we didn’t see it before. By spring I believe the lake will be infested all over.”

Dick Haynak, also an Association member said, “The association shouldn’t have to take full responsibility for the problem.” He continued, “The lake is an asset to the township. It is only fair that the board, the township and the Department of Natural Resources work together to save that lake. We would appreciate your help to save the lake. Give it some consideration.”

Township Supervisor Dan Dysinger said he had talked to the attorney in November about how things get funded. “The reason the funding ended was because of the way the money was dispersed.” He said he couldn’t reveal the attorney’s opinion without the permission of the full board and asked them to approve releasing the information. A motion to allow the attorney opinion to be shared was approved unanimously.

Dysinger said he had some concerns that other lakes would want the same level of support. He said forming a “Five Lakes Improvement Committee” to develop an agreement “would cover us for any issues that may come up.”

Southworth said, “We have to have a robust treatment [this spring] or we may not be able to save the lake.”

Dysinger suggested a special “public” joint meeting with a portion dealing with the problem and discussing forming a Five Lakes Improvement board.  He said he would like to see a long-term solution, not just dealing with the problem this year.

Association member Frank Oles said, “2012 has to be the target. We have to get it under control, to get it to a state where we can manage it. An improvement committee would be the next step. We have to hit it hard in 2012 to bring it [the infestation] to a manageable level. The plan is to systematically treat it to make it more financially manageable.” He said treatment should be done around the first of June.

He continued saying if the township would pay 52 percent of the costs it would increase the budget to $21,000 to $22,000. He said the total cost is just an estimate but said it should not be more than $30,000. “I think this spring we will be looking at an infestation like never before,” Oles said.

Dysinger said, “This is a basic, icebreaker meeting. We should have a special meeting in January. If we get involved, I want to get involved for the long term, not just the short term.”

Other business at the Grant Township Board meeting Tuesday evening included:

*Approval of an “open ended” contract for fire protection with the Clare Fire Department which could be terminated with 180 days’ notice.

*A report from Clare County Road Commission Manager Ron Bushong about winter maintenance and snow removal plans, that two graders and two trucks have been equipped with snow wings for speed and efficiency and plans to fix rather than reconstruct roads next year to conserve budget funds and extend the life of the roads. “We are looking at a chip sealing program,” he said.

*A report from Dysinger and Rowe Representative John Tanner that the hall repair project is essentially complete.

*Approval of training for Board of Review members and approval of the appointment of Ken Forfinski as a BOR alternate.

*Setting March 6 as the Board of Review Organizational Meeting, with BOR hearings on March 12 from 9 a.m. to noon and 6 to 9 p.m. and March 19 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

*Approval of the payment of bills totaling $14,795.18.