Five Lakes milfoil problem tops Grant meeting again

By Pat Maurer

Review Correspondent

Once again, Dave Southworth, president of the Five Lakes Association was at the Grant Township meeting January 10 to ask for help with the milfoil problem in the Lake.

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. 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.

At the Township’s December meeting he told the board, “Five Lakes is the only all sports lake with a public boat launch in Grant Township. The public boat launch is the reason we have this problem. It will require robust lake treatment just to get it under control.”

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

In December Tim O’Neal, Chair of the Watershed Management Committee for Five Lakes 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.”

Grant Township Supervisor Dan Dysinger’s December suggestion about forming  a “Five Lakes Improvement Board” was declined in a December 16 meeting of the Association, Southworth said at the January township meeting.

Southworth repeated his request that the Grant Township Board consider dispersing funds to treat the area in front of the Department of Natural Resources public boat launch. He told the board that the unseasonably warm weather had kept the milfoil growing in the lake. “We have asked for bids [to treat the lake], he said, adding that a survey would be done in late April or early May.

“Treating this devastating infestation is way outside our budget,” he said. “That’s why we asked you [the township board] to help. The boat launch area needs systemic treatment to stop the spread.”

Dysinger said the board would “talk more about costs before the township budget meetings.”

Southworth told the board that when the DNR had obtained ownership of the boat launch, they had agreed to participate in treatment of the lake. He said that he would work with the DNR and find out more about the contract with them.

Tuesday (January 17) in a telephone interview, Southworth said he and O’Neal had attended the January 12 DNR Commissioner’s meeting in Lansing at Michigan State University. “We went because the agenda included a presentation of the current draft of the DNR Invasive Aquatic Species Management Plan” and so they could make a statement about the infestation at Five Lakes. “We told them that we have a massive infestation of ‘variable leaf’ milfoil and that it was probably introduced to Five Lakes through the DNR public boat launch. We told them we need help,” he said.

He said they would attend another DNR Commission meeting in Lansing in March. “I am on the March 8 agenda,” Southworth said. “Now we are waiting for their feedback on the issue.”

In another matter at the township meeting January 10, Assessor Dawn Gentz of Northern Michigan Assessing asked the township board to consider a program to update 1,600 of the township’s 2,400 [property]  parcels with photographs. “It is not a complete reappraisal,” she told the board. She added that it would take four to five months and would cost less than $15,000. Dysinger said he wanted to tell the board about the proposal before the next budget is done.

The board also:

* approved a motion to pay $7,137 on the hall repair project for work that is complete. Dysinger said he was “disappointed” in the progress of the project. “I thought at this state we would be closer to the final payments,” he said.

*heard a report from County Commissioner Leonard Strouse who outlined the conflicts and budget problems that board has been facing. “Across the board cuts have been proposed and also the elimination of non-mandated programs,” he said. “I’ve been accused of wanting to eliminate Parks and Recreation. That’s not true. I don’t want to eliminate anything, but I don’t see any way to do this without it being painful.”

* discussed further testing at the old landfill site. Dysinger said $7,500 had been budgeted this year and an additional $7,000 to $8,000 next year would complete a test well.

* heard a report that the township received a “5” on the ISO rating for the Building Inspection program.

* heard a year-end report from County Sheriff John Wilson.

* approved monthly bills totaling $50,772.92.