Association stands up to zebra mussels; They aim to keep
Long Lake invader-free
By Brian McGillivary
Published May 4, 2004
TRAVERSE CITY- Experts predict zebra mussels eventually
will inhabit every inland lake in North America, but one
local lake association refuses to give in to the invaders.
"It seems to be a foregone conclusion that (every)
lake has zebra mussels but that's not true," said
Bill Kaupas, of the Long Lake Association.
Long Lake is ranked as one of the cleanest lakes in
the Lower Peninsula, and with a walleye fishery just beginning
to reach its peak, the sprawling lake west of Traverse
City remains mussel-free.
Michigan Sea Grant reported just 184 of Michigan's 11,000
inland lakes have confirmed zebra mussel infestations
as of 2003, but Sea Grant agent Mark Breederland said
the number is likely higher and will continue to grow.
Documentation of zebra mussels is a voluntary effort
and Sea Grant spends little time or resources on the effort,
"I'd like to be optimistic but eventually they
are going to be in all inland lakes," Breederland
said. "They are part of the North American ecosystem.
They don't belong here but they are now part of America."
The Long Lake Association has begun an educational campaign
to remind people that not every inland lake has zebra
"We have stocked the lake to make it a good walleye
lake and the zebra mussel can screw that up," Kaupas
Mussels filter algae and nutrients out of the water,
which improves clarity, but reduces the amount of food
available for some small fish. They also are selective
in the types of algae they eat, and that can result in
toxic algae blooms, Breederland said.
Zebra mussels and other exotic species are the top problem
in Michigan lakes, Breederland said.
The good news about zebra mussels is while they alter
the fishery, they won't kill all the fish.
"The consequences aren't as dire as they could
be from other exotics," he said.
Kaupas said Long Lake has always been a local favorite
for boating but the walleye fishery has garnered it statewide
recognition, leading to more boat traffic.
The lake association considered implementing a power
washing station at boat launches but Kaupas said the launches
couldn't accommodate such facilities.
The Glen Lake Association has had a power washing station
at the public boat launch, but this spring zebra mussels
were found in the lake.
Megan Woller, of the Leelanau Conservancy Watershed
Council, said how mussels arrived in Glen Lake is a complicated
question. She still recommends the association continue
the program to help control the zebra mussel population.
Long Lake residents now are focused on an educational
campaign. Every resident in the township will receive
a brochure on keeping the lake zebra-mussel-free and signs
will be posted at launches reminding people to clean off
Kaupas hopes the signs will at least prompt boaters
to take a second look and remove any visible hitch hikers,
wipe it down and drain the water from their boat.
"We feel people want to do the right thing if they
are just made aware," Kaupas said.