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Frequently Asked Questions

Who sits on the lake improvement board?

The plant control program on the Tri-Lakes is administered by the Tri-Lakes Improvement Board. The improvement board was established in accordance with Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. Under provisions of the act, the Tri-Lakes Improvement Board includes a lakefront property owner, two representatives from Morton Township, a Mecosta County Commissioner, and the Mecosta County Drain Commissioner. This year is the first year of a five-year improvement program (2023 – 2027) on the Tri-Lakes.

What’s the difference between the Tri-Lakes Association and the Tri-Lakes Improvement Board?

While the lake improvement board works closely with the Tri-Lakes Association, the association is a separate entity from the Tri-Lakes Improvement Board. The association is a voluntary organization that is funded through annual dues paid by association members. By contrast, the lake improvement board collects mandatory special assessments from all lake property owners to finance the plant control program on the Tri-Lakes.

Who oversees the plant control program?

Plant control activities are coordinated under the direction of the lake improvement board’s environmental consultant, Progressive Companies. Beginning in May and continuing through August, biologists from Progressive Companies conduct GPS-guided surveys of each of the lakes to identify problem areas, and detailed plant control maps are provided to the plant control contractors. Progressive then conducts follow-up surveys to evaluate contractor performance, and provides status reports to the lake improvement board.

Who conducts the herbicide treatments?

Herbicide treatments on the Tri-Lakes are conducted by PLM Lake and Land Management Corp. The herbicide treatment contract is performance-based, and the contractor is only compensated for work that is performed satisfactorily.

Who determines when and where treatments will occur?

Treatment timing is weather-dependent, and the scope of plant control is determined by where nuisance plants are found when biologists from Progressive AE conduct their surveys.

Why are there still plants in the lakes following treatments?

Not all plants are targeted. The goal of the program is to strike a balance by controlling invasive plant species and maintaining beneficial species. We do not want to remove all the plants in the lakes. This would be detrimental to the fishery and cause a host of other problems, such as algae blooms.

What plants are targeted for control?

The Tri-Lakes plant control program focuses primarily on invasive, exotic species. An exotic species is one that is found outside of its natural range, where exotic plants have no natural competitors or predators to help keep them in check. They can quickly outcompete native plants and gain dominance. Eurasian milfoil and starry stonewort are the primary exotic species targeted for control in the Tri-Lakes.

Is there a permanent fix to the problem?

If conditions are favorable, aquatic plants will grow. However, there are steps property owners can take to help minimize plant growth in the lakes such as limiting the use of lawn fertilizers and maintaining natural vegetation along the shoreline.

How about a pre-emptive strike?

To be effective, aquatic herbicides must be applied directly to the plant beds when the plants are actively growing. There are no approved pre-emergence aquatic herbicides like there are for agriculture.

Are herbicide treatments safe?

The aquatic herbicides that are permitted by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) are registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. They also undergo toxicological review by EGLE. In Michigan, aquatic herbicide use requires an EGLE permit. The permit lists herbicides approved for use in the lakes, respective dose rates, and shows specific areas in the lakes where treatments are allowed. If herbicides are applied according to label instructions and permit requirements, they should pose no danger to public health and the environment.

How do the treatments impact fish?

If applied properly, herbicides have no direct impacts on fish. In general, lakes with a variety of plants often support more productive fisheries. The Tri-Lakes plant control program is designed to remove invasive plants while preserving plants that provide habitat and cover for fish.

Why didn’t my property get treated?

Treatments occur where the targeted invasive plants are found during the lake surveys. Not every property gets treated every time; your property may have plants, but if it doesn’t contain the targeted invasive plants, it’s not treated.

How will I know about use restrictions?

All lake residents will receive a written notice regarding herbicides that may be applied to the Tri-Lakes. The written notice will list all herbicides that may be used and use restrictions. At the time of treatment, state regulations require that areas within 100 feet of treatment areas be posted with a sign that lists specific herbicides applied and the associated use restrictions. If there is no sign posted along your property, it means your area was not treated and there are no use restrictions.

When is it safe to swim after a treatment?

All herbicides have a 24-hour swimming restriction that will be posted on signs along areas of the shore that have been treated. However, if you do not have a sign posted or the sign indicates that only algaecides were applied, there are no swimming restrictions.

When can I water my lawn following a treatment?

If you draw water from the lake for irrigation, be sure to read the sign posted along your shoreline at the time of treatment. Most irrigation restrictions do not apply to established lawns. However, it you water flowers or a garden, adhere to the irrigation restrictions posted on the sign.

What can I do to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Tri-Lakes?

If you trailer your boat to other lakes, be sure to thoroughly wash your boat, motor, and trailer before launching back into the Tri-Lakes. With exotic species, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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