Elk River Chain of Lakes Surveys and Treatments
The Elk River Chain of Lakes: a Precious Resource
The Elk River Chain of Lakes is one of Northern Michigan's most precious natural resources. Comprised of fourteen interconnected lakes, the Elk River Chain of Lakes boasts 190 miles of shoreline. This shoreline has long been important habitat for a variety of Michigan-native plants and animals. As it is such an expansive and interconnected ecosystem, it is critical that the protection of the Chain’s environmental integrity be collaborative and system-focused. This is why the Charlevoix, Antrim, Kalkaska and Emmet Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area is dedicated to providing a regional network for the control of invasive species, to preserve Northern Michigan’s environmental quality for generations to come.
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is an invasive, riparian based plant. It grows quickly in and near wetlands, lakes, and streams. This plant is a restricted species under Michigan law due to its highly invasive nature. Purple loosestrife grows aggressively into dense monocultures along water systems. Purple loosestrife is a prolific reproducer, as it can grow vegetatively from resprouts, it can regenerate from pieces of root, and it can be spread by seeds. Seeds remain viable in the seedbank for many years. As a result it forms dense monocultures that quickly crowds out native vegetation, impairs fish and wildlife habitat, and reduces the biodiversity on the Elk River Chain of Lakes.
Phragmites (Phragmites australis) is an invasive, riparian based reed. It grows quickly in and near wetlands, lakes, and streams. This species is a restricted species under Michigan law, due to its highly invasive nature. Invasive phragmites grows aggressively into dense monocultures along water systems. Phragmites is a prolific reproducer, as it can spread extensively by seeds as well as by an aggressive system of rhizomes underneath the ground. As a result, phragmites can produce rapidly into dense stands that quickly crowd out native vegetation. This action can impair fish and wildlife habitat through its spread. This species is an imminent threat to native biodiversity on the Elk River Chain of Lakes.
What is being done?
To control these species, the CAKE CISMA is facilitating a system-wide survey and treatment project through a grant funded by the Dole Family Foundation and by forming partnerships with local lake associations such as Friends of Clam Lake, Torch Lake Protection Alliance, Elk and Skegemog Lake Association, and Intermediate Lake Association. In 2019, the CAKE CISMA field team surveyed a majority of the Chain of Lakes for loosestrife and phragmites by boat and kayak, including the entire upper Chain as well as Intermediate Lake, Intermediate River, Lake Bellaire, Grass River, Clam Lake, the Torch River, the Rapid River, and parts of Torch Lake and Lake Skegemog.
Thanks to a grant from the Dole Family Foundation and the financial assistance from partnering organizations, the CAKE CISMA is offering treatments for loosestrife and phragmites in 2020 for landowners on the Chain, free of charge. The CAKE CISMA has identified dense, large stands of loosestrife for galerucella beetle control. The galerucella beetle (Galerucella calmariensis) is a USDA approved biocontrol that only eats loosestrife, and its feeding behavior can help cut back loosestrife populations. Landowners with large stands of loosestrife have been contacted to gain their approval for this treatment. Other loosestrife stands that are smaller and less dense will be treated chemically by the CAKE CISMA later in the summer, using aquatically approved herbicides. Any phragmites will also be treated chemically.
Do live on the Chain of Lakes and have purple loosestrife and/or invasive phragmites on your property? To request treatment, email us at , or call (231)-533-8363 (ext. 5).