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Professional Lake Management

fallonthelakeOver the years, I have noticed the trucks of Professional Lake Management pulling a trailer with an airboat down the road. I have thought many times that would be the ideal job! Can you imagine having a job where you can spend time on one of Michigan’s lakes in the morning, another in the afternoon?

It has been rightly said, “Things always look greener on the other side of the fence.”

Recently I paid a visit to the office of Professional Lake Management and met Jason Broekstra, Vice President of Michigan operations. His experience with over 14 years in Aquatic Plant Management, coupled with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Grand Valley State University, makes him the man with the answers.

The management of PLM operates with a simple and very clear plan; assessment, prescription, and implementation. I like to think of them as doctors to the lakes in Michigan.

Under their care are many of Michigan’s jewels, our beautiful Michigan lakes. During the summer months more than twenty crews are on the road taking water samples, performing vegetation surveys and treating the water.

weedsMany times potential clients call when they suspect something may be wrong with the water in the lake. The fish are not biting, the waters are murky and discolored, or there is a layer of algae on the surface of the water are some of the things they report. Algae can be a sign of poor water quality, indicating that a lake that can be out of balance. That is where the diagnosis starts.

Our desire may be for a nice sandy beach with clear water and not a plant in sight, but that may not be the best for the health of the lake. Dr. Jason informed me that the aquatic water plants are very important to the ecosystem of the lake. At least that is the native vegetation, the exotic plants are the one ones that cause the problems. I learned that exotic plants are the plants that are not native to the area.

The native plants oxygenate the water. They provide habitat for the fish and stabilize the sediments (water clarity). Common exotic plants that have found their way into some of Michigan’s lakes are Eurasian Watermiloil and Curly Leaf Pondweed. PLM’s goal is  to protect our Michigan lakes against these and other predatory species.

One method of control is by applying aquatic herbicide to treat the water. Your first thought is probably the same as mine, “What are the chemicals they are putting in the water I fish and swim in?” After all, we all have seen the yellow warning signs that they post after treatment. Jason assured me that all aquatic herbicides are closely regulated by the State of Michigan and must be approved by the state. Anyone applying herbicides must be certified in this area. Notices of herbicide application are a state requirement and must be placed on every lakefront property within 100 feet of the treatment area.

  1. recently explained in one of the company newsletters “Aquatic herbicides are designed to impact or disrupt biological processes specific to plants only. Plants have very different enzymes, physiological processes, growth, and metabolism than humans. Often, herbicides are designed to disrupt one specific plant process or enzyme which can cause the plant to shut down. Since humans and animals lack these biological processes and enzymes, herbicides do not have the same impact on us.”

Lake harvesting is also common in Michigan. The harvester is a floating machine that removes all weeds and algae by skimming it up. They can work in waters only two feet deep and can harvest up to four feet below the surface of the water. Harvesting works best for the control of native plants. Every lake is different, no two are the same, and that means their management will be different.

Lakes are catch basins for all sorts of things. They catch everything, including sediments from soil erosion, chemicals, fertilizers and leaky septic systems. There is much to be said for the preventive measures one can take to prevent unnecessary runoff to preserve the quality and life of the lake. That will be the subject of a future post.

Written by Dave.