Hello Friends and Colleagues in the Elk River Chain of Lakes Watershed,
It is with great pleasure that I present to you the completed Elk River Invasive Species Monitoring Project report! With funding from DEQ via the Clean Michigan Initiative Clean Water Fund, we spent two years surveying all lakes and connecting waterways in the Chain for aquatic invasive species, and completed comprehensive aquatic vegetation surveys for Hanley, Intermediate, Skegemog, and Elk Lakes. Our methods, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are all included in the attached report. Please share with anybody for whom this information is relevant, including members of your organizations, local government officials etc. Also, please consider putting the report on your web site, or a link to the report on our web site (not up on ours yet, but should be up shortly – in next day or two). We have already met with groups in the Lower Chain and planned follow up control measures, and have started the same conversation with Upper Chain groups.
We really appreciate all the support from our partners, and particularly from all the partner organization members who attended our invasive species workshops and helped keep an eye out for invasive species in the ERCOL. We urge you all to continue to be vigilant regarding invasive species in the lakes and streams of the ERCOL and to report any sightings to us.
Kevin L. Cronk
Monitoring & Research Director
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
Below are highlights from the summary section of the report. To review the complete report, please go to the ESLA website at http://www.elk-skegemog.org/elkriverinvasivespeciesmonitoring_finalreport_tomwc_final/ .
All priority aquatic invasive plants were found during ERCOL paddling surveys. Curly-leaf pondweed was found at one location in the Intermediate and seven locations in the Torch River. These infestations extended up into and were likely seeded from the Cedar and Rapid Rivers. Eurasian watermilfoil infestations were found in the upper and lower ends of the Chain, mostly in small and light-density patches, except in St. Clair Lake where multiple, moderately dense beds were documented. Small Eurasian Phragmites stands were found at three locations on Six Mile and Intermediate Lakes. Purple loosestrife was found in nine of 14 ERCOL lakes, as well as two interconnecting rivers. The greatest number of infestations occurred on Intermediate Lake (35), Six Mile Lake (32), and Elk Lake (29), while the largest combined infestation areas occurred on Hanley Lake (88,900 ft2 ) and Six Mile Lake (42,200 ft2 ). No quagga mussels were found in the 104 benthic tows performed in the 12 ERCOL lakes where sampling was feasible.
Comprehensive surveys on Hanley, Intermediate, Skegemog, and Elk Lakes found aquatic vegetation in 90%, 23%, 67%, and 3.7% of these lakes, respectively, and documented 29, 30, 30 and 26 plant taxa, respectively. From 1-2 invasive plant species found per lake, largely mirrored paddling survey results. Purple loosestrife was found in all four lakes, Eurasian Phragmites found in Intermediate Lake, and Eurasian watermilfoil found in Elk and Skegemog Lakes. Heavy-density vegetation, in terms of both native and invasive species, was common in Hanley Lake, but rare in the other lakes. Native species still dominate these lakes, with coontail being the most commonly collected and abundant plant in Hanley Lake, while muskgrass was the most common and abundant in the other lakes. A few small Eurasian watermilfoil beds, less than 0.2 acres combined, were found in Elk Lake and Lake Skegemog.