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Bitten by Frog-Bit: New Invasive a Major Threat to Western Michigan Lakes

Bitten by Frog-Bit: New Invasive a Major Threat to Western Michigan Lakes
September 2, 2016 GLNeditor

A Note from the Editor:
Here’s why frog-bit matters: It’s a newly identified, extremely harmful invasive species that we have the chance to nip in the proverbial, and literal, bud. Throughout the Great Lakes Basin we face the staggering task of battling over 180 invasive species that threaten the immediate and sustainable health of our ecosystem. Not to mention our economy. It’s estimated that aquatic invasives alone cost the region over 100 million dollars annually.  It’s an urgent, titanic issue that rarely makes the headlines, despite it’s mounting importance. The Great Lakes Bureau is committed to bringing this issue to the forefront by covering stories about known existing threats, as well as emerging ones and highlighting the latest research and innovations in the fight. With the help of our partners throughout the region, like writer Adrian de Novato, of Science Around Michigan, we’ll be paying special attention to this subject in the coming year.

Reeds Lake, Fisk Lake under threat by harmful invasive species

by Adrian de Novato

Aquatic invasive species can happen to anyone. That’s what East Grand Rapids, Michigan residents will be telling themselves after water management experts found a particularly devious species, European frog-bit, in Reeds Lake, Fisk Lake, and the connecting waterway.

The leaves are small and heart-shaped, oft-described as resembling small lily pads. A single, beautiful white flower with three petals and a yellow center blooms above the water.

As aquatic invasive species go, frog-bit is near the top in terms of concern. It grows in enormous mats along the surface, blocking native plants and sunlight from reaching below. In shallow areas with larger infestations, fish spawning is prevented.

Growth may be so immense that swimming, boating, and kayaking are no longer possible. When a large mat dies at year’s end, oxygen levels fall creating a condition we call aquatic hypoxia.

On Monday, experts from the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) conducted a full survey of both lakes and their connecting waterway to confirm the presence at the behest of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The original report of an infestation came as a result of an inspection done by city of East Grand Rapids’ lake management firm, PLM Lake & Land Management Corp.

Drew Rayner, coordinator of West Michigan CISMA, notes that the infestation is to the point where hand removal is no longer an option and that it is too late in the season for an herbicide application. Discussion is taking place concerning how to proceed.

One thing is for sure. Residents of Reeds Lake and Fisk Lake should take note. A frog-bit infestation will impact both fishing and recreational activities. If allowed to spread, it will impact waterfront properties.

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