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Long Lake: Association stands up to zebra mussels; They aim to keep Long Lake invader-free
By Brian McGillivary
Record-Eagle
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, Breederland said.

"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 mussels.

"We have stocked the lake to make it a good walleye lake and the zebra mussel can screw that up," Kaupas said.

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 their boats.

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.

 

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