The Wolverine Lake Water Management Board will be implementing new measures to root out the invasive starry stonewort plant from the village’s namesake.
The Village Council has directed Village Administrator Sharon Miller to work with the Professional Lake Management consultants and Aqua-Weed Control herbicide applicators, in tandem with herbicide manufacturer SePRO, to identify test patches where the invasive weed resides and determine a treatment approach for eradication.
Starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) is native to Europe and Asia and was first discovered in the St. Lawrence River in 1978. It was later found in the Detroit River, and has since infested several Michigan inland lakes.
Starry stonewort resembles Chara, a native aquatic plant. However, Chara is generally considered a beneficial plant, whereas starry stonewort has a propensity to colonize in deeper water and form dense mats several feet thick. It can also impede navigation, limit growth and discourage more beneficial aquatic plants.
“It’s a good news/bad news plant,” said Village Council President John Magee. “It spreads everywhere, but suppresses the growth of Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed.”
While crowding out these other two problematic invasive lake weed species, starry stonewort has become unmanageable.
One of the test plots on the lake may be close to Benstein Road, off the beaten path so there is no interference with boat traffic.
Another test spot could be near the small island on the south side of the lake.
“Both spots are very weedy and the harvester can’t get back there,” said Water Management Board Chairman Clifford Yantz.
The village may consider using a new herbicide that has been approved for use this year in Michigan waters, but it’s cost-prohibitive compared to the typical copper sulphate used to combat nuisance aquatic vegetation.
“It’s triple the costs and we don’t want to apply the newest chemical on the market necessarily, but if we do a test spot and it does well, then maybe we’ll pursue it,” Yantz said.
A third test spot on the east side off Ethel Court is tentatively slated for manual cutting and harvesting to determine the efficacy of those control approaches.
“We’ll see if manual removal is effective, but it would take a lot of labor to do it,” Yantz said.
Testing will be monitored this year with a strategy put in place by next year.