Aquatic Invasive Species and Information
Stemming the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Plants and Animals
Invasive aquatic plants and animals have created big problems in many of Michigan’s inland lakes. These non-native, aggressive plants and animals not only interfere with the natural ecology by disrupting habitat and damaging the food web, but also impair the recreational enjoyment and commercial uses of the affected lakes. Unfortunately, some of these aquatic invasive species have made their way into lakes in Houghton and Keweenaw counties.
Spiny water flea, which disturbs food availability for native fish and also fouls fishing gear, has been found in recent years in the following lakes: Gratiot, Medora, Fanny Hooe, Lac La Belle, and the Portage Waterway. This tiny zooplankton hitchhikes from lake to lake by attaching itself in clumps to fishing gear.
Eurasian water-milfoil was discovered in 2012 in Chassell’s Pike Bay and other parts of the Keweenaw/Portage Waterway. Eurasian water milfoil grows robustly to form mats so dense that they entangle boat propellers and interfere with boating and swimming. In addition, Eurasian water milfoil crowds out the native aquatic plants which are vital for a healthy lake ecosystem supportive of fish and other wildlife. Chassell Township residents and officials are working on a plan to map and manage the infestation that now rings Pike Bay. Eurasian water milfoil is transported from lake to lake on boats and equipment.
Gratiot Lake Conservancy is one of many groups on the steering committee of the Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area (KISMA). KISMA’s mission is to educate and facilitate cooperation among federal, state, and tribal entities, local groups, and landowners on this issue. Prevention and management of invasive species require a concerted whole community effort to be successful.
A key to stemming the spread of invasives into our high quality lakes is good aquatic equipment hygiene. By washing off and drying out power boats, canoes/kayaks, jet skis, tackle, motors, paddles, and other aquatic paraphernalia before taking it to another lake, much of the invasive spread can be stemmed. Also, live wells should be drained away from the lake edge before boats are transported to another lake. Unwanted bait should be disposed of in the trash. Watch for informative signs at public boat access sites which describe what to look for and how to clean boats and equipment.
On June 1st Daryl Johnson an employee of the U.S. Forest Service brought Ottawa National Forest’s portable boat wash to Lake Linden and Lac La Belle for the Knights of Columbus Pike/Walleye Tournament. As part of the KISMA outreach on aquatic invasive species, he demonstrated how boats can be effectively cleaned to remove potential problem “hitch-hikers” such as the spiny water flea pictured clumped on fishing line above. Daryl power washed a number of boats and handed out information about ways boaters can prevent the spread of invasive species from lake to lake. Ian Shackleford, botanist for the Ottawa National Forest, arranged the loan of the boat wash set-up for the tournament. Brad Fortin and organizers of the tournament were supportive of this effort to keep local fisheries healthy.
If you enjoy our inland lakes, be on the lookout for new incidences of invasive plants and animals in them. KISMA will have informative displays and information available at local gatherings. GLC will be distributing invasive species ID cards and info at its workshops and members meeting this summer. GLC has free copies of its Guide to Aquatic Plants of Gratiot Lake and Other Keweenaw County Lakes by Janet Marr and Bonnie Hay. In addition to native plants, this handbook details some invasive non-native ones. There are also many links to good information on invasive species and their control on the GLC website. By becoming more informed and proactive on this issue, you can help protect our waters.
Invasive Species Information
(Links Updated summer 2013)
The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN)
Michigan Sea Grant invasive species info
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
TEACH Great Lakes
Michigan Invasive Species Coalition
Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Invasive info
Donations for AIS and Aquatic Plants Project Gratefully Acknowledged for 2007
In 2007, small grants have been awarded to GLC by the Michigan Botanical Foundation, Community Foundation of the U.P. Sustainable Forestry and Wildlife Fund, and the Upper Peninsula Power Company Corporate Giving Division. The funds will help to support the completion of the aquatic plant mapping at Gratiot Lake and the design and production of a local aquatic plant booklet and CD. When completed in 2008 the CD and booklet, which will also highlight invasive aquatic plants, will be made available to local groups concerned with the protection of inland lakes in the Keweenaw.
GLC Receives 2006 Grant from
MDEQ Office of the Great Lakes
GLC’s survey of the lake for plant and animal invaders is underway. The summer of 2006 survey is partially funded by a small grant GLC received from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes. Botanist Janet Marr is leading the survey with the assistance of student intern Laura Peterson, a Finlandia University’s Arts Communication and Environment Program student, and other volunteers. Brian Rajdl, the Hancock H.S. science teacher who has worked with MTU’s Summer Youth Program (SYP) students at Gratiot, engaged this year’s SYP students in sampling for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) such as zebra mussels and spiny water fleas.
Unlike most searches, we hope that this one will come up “empty handed.” If no AIS are detected, we will have the beginnings of a mapping of the aquatic vegetation abundance and diversity in the lake which will give us a better idea of the ecology of Gratiot and serve as a baseline for future monitoring. If AIS are found, it should be early enough for careful monitoring and speedy remediation.
Property owners around the lake are asked to cooperate in allowing Janet and her assistants to cross shoreline near their homes. Most of the work can be done from the water. Plant samples were taken and recorded and their locations noted by using a GPS unit. The goal was to cover the entire lake perimeter. Work was carried out in the first week of July and also in August. The last formal aquatic vegetation survey of the entire lake on record took place in 1938!
GLC Receives UPPCO Grant
A grant to partially fund the Gratiot Lake aquatic vegetation survey and aquatic invasive species search was awarded by the Upper Peninsula Power Company’s (UPPCO) Corporate Giving Division. “Non-native invasive species are becoming a problem here in the U.P.,” said Janet Wolfe, who administers the corporate giving program at UPPCO. “We were pleased to hear that a study was to be done on Gratiot Lake and that the information would be shared with educators. The Environment and Education are two of the six major areas UPPCO funds through its donations program, making this project a good fit with our company’s goals.” GLC is grateful for this donation. A major portion of the UPPCO funds allowed GLC to bring in submersible remotely operated vehicle specialist Mark Gleason (Visit Aquatic Plant Workshop page)
Aquatic Invasive Species Grant
The Gratiot Lake Conservancy received an Aquatic Invasive Species Information and Education Grant from the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council through the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network & Fund. Funding for this grant program was made available from the Office of the Great Lakes through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This small grant allowed GLC to distribute information about aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil and ruffe, which threaten Keweenaw lakes and streams.
Michigan Tech students, Liisa Niva and Derek Bustos, visited bait shops and fishing and boating supply stores in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties with information to distribute to boaters and anglers about mostly non-native plants and animals that can disrupt native fisheries, impact lake ecology, and even interfere with boating. The handouts also explain what boaters and anglers can do to prevent inadvertent introduction of these nuisance species into local lakes. Liisa and Derek also handed out information to fishermen at the LacLabelle/Gratiot Lake Fishing Tournament registration meeting in June, but that effort was cut short by a downpour.
GLC can supply a short video on the subject,” Stop Exotics: Clean Your Boat” which features John Ratzenberger (a.k.a. Cliff Clavin from the TV show “Cheers) for viewing by interested individuals or groups. An accompanying informative CD, “Exotics to Go” contains information and power point presentations on the subject. E-mail mailto:email@example.com if you would like to borrow this material. Information will also be available at the GLC Open House on August 7.
Aquatic Invasive Species Videos and CD’s Available
Thanks to a grant GLC received from the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund, a video and a CD’s detailing information about aquatic invasive species and preventative measures boaters and anglers can take are available to borrow.
The “Exotics to Go!” CD includes presentations and publications to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species. More information on this CD can be viewed at http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/exotics/exoticstogo.html.
A “Stop Exotics: Clean Your Boat” video features John Ratzenberger (better known as Cliff Clavin from the TV show "Cheers"). This humorous video leaves boaters informed and motivated to take a couple extra minutes to clean their boat, sailboat, or personal watercraft at the end of a day on the water. More information about this video can be seen at
To borrow these materials for personal use or to present to organizations or clubs, please contact GLC firstname.lastname@example.org.