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Invasive aquatic plant is spreading in Michigan lakes and rivers

Courtesy: EGLE

Michigan state conservation officials say boaters, anglers, and hunters are spreading an invasive aquatic plant.

The European frog-bit has been messing up Lake Erie and Michigan coastal areas and inland lakes in the central Lower Peninsula for almost 30 years, but it’s popping up in new areas such as Lincoln River, north of Ludington and in the eastern Upper Peninsula.

The invasive plant floats on the water and spreads quickly in lakes and slow moving rivers.

“Pretty soon you have water that is really just covered with this plant. And that means that we have issues with other plants that are native that should be in that area and may not be able to thrive,” said Joanne Foreman, Invasive Species Communications Coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources.

By crowding out beneficial plants, frog-bit damages habitat for fish and waterfowl.

Getting rid of it means pulling it by hand or spraying chemicals. But it’s hard to remove.

Credit Illustration courtesy of Bruce Kerr
European frog-bit is a free-floating aquatic plant with small leaves of a 1/2 inch to 2-1/2 inches.

“Human movement is by and large the easiest way that these are transferred, and so we're hoping that people start being more aggressive about cleaning and drying their gear,” Foreman said.

That means removing plants and debris from boats and trailers, and the gear boaters and anglers use, then letting them sit and dry for a few days if possible.

“And so if those things are not thoroughly cleaned off, one plant, part of fragment or a seed can be transferred to another water body,” added Foreman.

Foreman says the best way is for everyone to clean plants and debris from their boats and any gear being used whether it’s fishing tackle, water skis, or duck hunting boats, anything that touches water.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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