Uncontrolled growing vegetation, especially as it relates to invasive species and large mono-species tree growth on the bottomlands is a concern of many lake owners and Four Lakes Task Force. Bottomland vegetation is part of the environmental restoration plan that FLTF is implementing. However, we have determined that it is not feasible to implement a Four Lakes-wide program this year for these reasons:
We will not have enough time to acquire the necessary permitting for large area vegetation control
There’s currently no available funding to cover what will be a several hundred-thousand-dollar expenditure
There is no consensus on what or how to do this within the community or the regulatory agencies, and we have to be realistic on what we can get done this year
We believe we have one more growing season before the issue of woody tree and brush management will become significantly more expensive. We are now targeting for a 2022 program.
Tactical vegetation management and other aspects of lake improvement activities come from the Lake Improvement Boards and Weed Assessment Districts. Four Lakes is working with all these groups to develop an aligned plan.
What Will Occur in 2021:
What can property owners or neighborhoods do? Property owners do not need a permit to cut trees or brush, however they cannot remove roots, and must be careful not to disturb the bottomland. We ask if you are going to cut trees or brush more than 40 feet from your shoreline, that you email FLTF at email@example.com for an access letter, and we can discuss the type of equipment you intend to use.
How are townships, Lake Improvement Boards and Weed Districts involved? FLTF is looking to these groups for short term financing, volunteerism and other options to address some of the concerns in 2021. These concerns and issues vary by township.
What’s FLTF working on? FLTF will be working on the transitional weed management program that will be part of the overall Restoration Plan that’s submitted for the permitting of Sanford and Edenville dam restorations. Four Lakes Task Force is engaged with all the communities to create a multi-year transitional plan.
What A Transitional Vegetation Bottomland Plan May Look Like:
Considerations for management of woody growth and invasive species
Focus on ensuring that we can establish early succession habitat on the lakebottom and near the shoreline edge to return a robust ecosystem
As it relates to trees in the bottomland:
The intent is to not obstruct access or lake views for established developed parts of the lakes. We want to preserve the recreational aspects of the parks and boat launches, and not restrict or create unsafe conditions for navigation or water flow. However, there are miles of shoreline that are not developed in the Special Assessment District and will likely never be developed. Many trees were lost in the flood and there are numerous shallow-water pools in the lake system and wetlands where tree growth would help the health of the lake and its water and improve wildlife diversity including the fisheries
FLTF is engaged with EGLE, MDNR, USFWS and EPA, and will submit an overall plan next year
Chemical Treatment to Manage Woody Tree Growth in the Bottomlands
FLTF will not be doing any chemical treatment in 2021, and we are not encouraging property owners to use chemicals. Secord and Smallwood Lakes are planning normal aquatic treatment in their lowered lakes.
Going forward, just like aquatic weed control, some chemicals may be needed. While aerial spraying costs significantly less, a decision has not been made and we will look at all options.