CRYSTAL FALLS--The Iron County Board of Commissioners gave the go-ahead, allowing the Chicaugon Lake Association and Stambaugh Township to sell watercraft permits at the county-owned boat landing, following a lengthy discussion at its May 8 bi-monthly meeting.
Steve Polich, member of the association, presented an overview of the Eurasian watermilfoil problem in the lake. The milfoil cannot be eradicated without treatment.
The revenue from the permits will be used to treat the milfoil in several ways.
The milfoil infestation has grown from affecting about two acres three years ago to more than 20, Polich explained.
Fifteen acres are “matted,” meaning watercraft can’t and is actually prohibited from traversing these areas.
Five acres were chemically treated three years ago at a cost of about $9,000.
Additionally, another two acres were treated with weevils that feeds on the milfoil, and that cost about $10,000.
“You can see the progression of this problem,” Polich said.
In a three-year period, the infestation has increased 10 times the size. In another three years, 200 acres will be affected.
“That is dramatic for Chicaugon Lake, affecting about 20 percent of the area,” he said.
The milfoil is not limited to shallow areas either, he said, as it has been found growing in depths of 26 feet.
Forty percent of Chicaugon Lake could therefore support milfoil.
The lake association is addressing the problem in three ways, Polich said.
One is through education, with signs and pamphlets.
A second is a boat wash at the launch, and a third involves various means of treatment, including pulling the weeds where small patches are accessible, protecting the weevils where they are present and treating with chemicals, which the association has a permit to do. Treatment for 15 acres costs $20,000.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to do that for the next three or four years, at which point the treatment may possibly be cut down.” Polich noted that Runkle Lake in Crystal Falls has been successfully treated, and has all but eradicated the milfoil.
Up to this point, the treatment has been paid for by the riparian owners and through donations, Polich continued.
“The state hasn’t done anything to address the problem. The association feels it is now fair for everyone to take responsibility.”
Stambaugh and Bates townships have passed ordinances.
There is no county ordinance, therefore it is not the responsibility of the sheriff department or the DNR to enforce the ordinances, he explained.
The county’s role in the issue, Polich said, is based on its being a large landowner of lake property, with a county park and county-owned boat launch.
“Our request,” Polich said, “is just this: to have an arrangement to have the permits for sale on a daily basis at the boat landing.”
He said it would be the same kind of arrangement the county now has with vendors selling concessions at the park and at the fairgrounds, which are also county-owned.
There will be a sign at the boat launch, with educational information and a lock-box arrangement for day permits only.For more... get the Reporter online or at your newstand.