Report on Beaver Island Phragmites Program

by Jack Kelly - BIPOA

Growing awareness of the spread of the invasive phragmites on Beaver Island has led to a series of responses. Small patches have been identified in the harbor, on the east side form Sand By to Greene's Bay in the south and up the west side to Donegal Bay. The major growth on Cable Bay now stretches along a third of the shoreline with heights over 10 feet. There are also patches on Lake Genesereth. In short, although most patches are still relatively small, Cable Bay demonstrates the potential to take over entire shoreline areas.

The Beaver Island Property Owners Association took the initiative of sending an introductory warning letter cosigned by the township Supervisors and realtors to over 200 shoreline property owners. Answering letters, e-mails, and phone calls came from many owners who are not on the island and are not in a position to take any action personally. In the meantime, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at Gaylord was seeking funding for an identification and spraying program on the 11 state shoreline tracts. However, no expenditures were authorized until after October 1, making any Fall 2006 action impossible. The BIPOA hope had been that private owners would be able to piggyback on a DNR contract.

In the meantime, several property owners have taken preventive action by manually pulling up small patches, carefully getting the long runners and placing the plants in plastic bags or otherwise keeping them from re-rooting. They have also cut the purple seed plumes to lessen re-seeding or cut the plants entirely when the runners could not be pulled intact. Some have also sprayed with glyphosate in a soapy mixture such as Roundup, although federal and state regulations for the product do not approve use in wetlands or near water. (There are other mixtures approved for use by licensed applicators.) Some have also been good neighbors by pulling plants on land where owners are absent or on state land.

The Current Situation

There have been many more sightings of phragmites. For example, there is a major infestation on the state land just north of Western Shores. The window for All spraying runs to late September. However, the Michigan DEQ deadline for obtaining permits for Fall expired in mid-August. It is not too late, however, to pull where possible, cut where necessary, and be sure the seed plumes are removed and protected.

Several contacts with certified aquatic weed control companies have been initiated. At this point two have expressed an interest if they can combine a DNR contract with one with private owners. The permit process for Spring spraying to be done by a certified applicator could be completed in the winter. However, it involves precise identification and mapping of sites to be sprayed. How this could be accomplished on an island with 45 miles of shoreline, 11 public tracts, and over 200 private owners, is not clear. The DEQ permitting process seems to be designed for small inland lakes. DEQ staff are willing to help getting permits, but not with organizing.

Further, DEQ is monitoring two control programs on the east side of the state, but has NO programs on the west side or this far north. It would appear that they define their mission as monitoring externally initiated programs rather than being proactive.

BIPOA can continue to be in contact with DNR as their program materializes and follow up with certified sprayers to see if any are willing to work with multiple owners plus DNR. However, the requirement that no spraying be done on any private land without the written permission of the owner means that such a program would miss many phragmites sites that would then continue to see and broadcast seed by wind and wave action.

What can we do?

Obviously, there is no quick fix. At best, we are in for several years of protecting our shorelines. This is no trivial matter. Cable Bay could be lost in two years or so, demonstrating the power of the invasive plant. We can only imagine the potential loss to those with lake access and views as well as to property values for the entire island where the economy is second homes, tourism, and related services. Beaver Island has to continue to offer an environment and experience that is worth the time and money costs of coming and living here.

There are, however, a few possibilities that can be explored:

  1. BIPOA has written our legislators and chairs of the Natural Resources committees calling for adequate DNR funding and staffing to deal with the problem on state land and for a proactive DEQ program that would make Beaver Island a demonstration site for the state.
  2. Individuals can deal with small patches as suggested above: pull plants and runners when possible, cut plumes or plants where necessary, segregate pulled or cut plants, and take necessary steps to prevent further expansion.
  3. One control expert suggested cutting the bigger patches, getting DEQ permits to bring in a licensed sprayer in the Spring, and contracting for a continuing service where necessary. (Jean Palmer's Lawn Service will contract to do cutting for those needing help - phone 448-2915. Eric Bacon at DEQ can provide information on applying for permits - There are chemicals approved for use near water that can be applied by licensed concerns.
  4. One longer-term possibility is that the two townships could form a special assessment district that would then take the initiative of locating and identifying patches, obtaining permits, and contracting for cutting and spraying. The cost spread among all taxpayers would not be great and all would benefit, directly or indirectly. Contact your township supervisor if this appeals to you (or if you oppose such action).

BIPOA will continue to explore possible programs and gather information. If anyone on the island could see this as a long-term business opportunity and become certified in aquatic control, either alone or in cooperation with an established company, that would solve some problems. It is clear that the weeds are not likely to just go away. But this is a big island and 45 plus inland lakes is a lot of shoreline. In the East on Chesapeake Bay and other water sites, there are miles of weeds 12 feet high. We can't have that here.


...and the Winner is...

The winner of the 2006 Chevy truck raffled by the Beaver Island Rural Health Center is the Hogarth family! Dr. Phil Lange pulled the winning number (#401). The Hogarth's pulled up in front of the Shamrock ten minutes after the drawing (they were on island time it seems) only to be informed that they were the winners. Congratulations, Hogarths!

End of Summer

by Georgia Schaubroeck

The summer days are fading, as they must
From endless hours to short and fleeting light
The bird's once bright, immortal tune, now cries
A melancholy aura to the dusk
The children fiercely climb, and dream, and race
Before their wild and unchained days depart
And yet beneath the zeal lies a half heart
For there isn't time, there's only enough space
The sun seems low, a hazy orange sphere
Now reminiscing sweetly of the days
When endlessly before you summer lay
And as in the deep, crimson dusk you stir
Your soul joins with the birds in wistful brood
Crying for lost summer days, for childhood


While Labor Day marks the end of summer, there's still plenty of warm weather to enjoy along with plenty of colors even before all the trees dress in calico. Here's a version of "Where's Waldo" for Beaver Island. Check out the wildflowers below, can you find the spider, ant and bee/wasp in some of them?



So, now that we've waved goodbye to all our family and friends, we done the "back to school" shopping, and finished off the last of the sunscreen, it's time to wonder what autumn is going to bring. I doubt I've ever seen so many pinecones on trees...does that mean there's a hard winter in the forecast?


Congratulations to Bridget and Travis Martin who were married this past weekend on the island. May you have many, many wonderful years together.

Coast Guard live fire exercises off Charlevoix
included in plan

By Kristina Hughes -Petoskey News-Review Staff Writer and by the Associated Press

CHARLEVOIX - Pleasure boaters and ferry operators in Charlevoix may run into Coast Guard members with ammunition soon.

This will be the result of Coast Guard plans to create 34 firearm training zones on the Great Lakes. The zones include the region near the Charlevoix Lifeboat Station and Hammond Island near Cheboygan, Commander Gustav Wulfkuhle, of the Enforcement Branch, with the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland said.

The plan calls for establishing 34 permanent zones over open water 5 miles from the Great Lakes shorelines for shooting exercises. Crew members would fire at floating targets from cutters and small boats using machine guns, rifles and small 9 mm guns, said Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier, spokesman for the Coast Guard's 9th District in Cleveland to the Associated Press.

A main concern is the zone locations. Some of the zones are near recreational spots for boating and diving and areas crisscrossed often by ferries, charter and fishing boats.

In Charlevoix the zone is in direct contact with the Beaver Island Boat Company.

“We are in the middle of their transient area. Our intention is to work with the ferry so we do not impact commerce,” Wulfkuhle said.

Wulfkuhle said the intention is to not interfere with commerce. If the ferry runs at 6 p.m., the Coast Guard would fire after the ferry safely leaves the zone.

Margo Marks, the general manager with the Beaver Island Boat Company hopes to work with the Coast Guard.

“Our concern is the zone is in our course between Beaver Island and Charlevoix,” Marks said. “Our preference is for the Coast Guard to move the zone out of our operating area or to carry the exercises during the off season.”

Marks also has concerns for the everyday pleasure boater.

“Boaters need to be informed,” Marks said.

But Josh Barnes, an avid boater, is not worried about the training. Barnes travels to Florida and said some of the most popular ports in Florida are located in a naval artillery range.

“I don't see any problems,” Barnes said. “I'm tickled pink that they're doing that type of activity.”

The Coast Guard has safety measures in place. Before a drill will begin, the Coast Guard will issue alerts on recreational marine band radio and the news media.

During the exercise a second boat will be used to insure boat traffic doesn't come into the zone.

The training is not unique to the Great Lakes. The training is being conducted throughout the United States on the east and west coasts and along the Gulf Coast. The process to acquire the weapons and mounting posts has been a long time coming.

“We are all going through the growing pains now,” Wulfkuhle said, “We're working to pass the legislation.”

He said, “Since 9-11, we've renewed our charge to protect our ports, the waterways and the people we serve. Our ultimate goal is defense of the nation. But we have to do it safely and insure we protect our citizens.”

The qualification training will be conducted biannually for a couple days. The intention is to schedule training in April and October, Wulfkuhle said, but the ammunition will be on board throughout the year.

“The one thing we want people to know is we are not shutting down the lake. These zones are at least 5 miles off the coast or 5 miles off the international border,” Lanier told the Associated Press.

The Coast Guard has already conducted approximately 23 trainings on the Great Lakes.

“Nobody's been hurt. If boaters come into an area we have (stopped) the training. There were no issues with boaters,” Wulfkuhle said.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich. requested the Coast Guard extend a pubic comment period.

“I was surprised to learn of the Coast Guard's plans to create firearms training zones on Lake Michigan and am disappointed that it did not do more to inform the public,” Hoekstra, of Holland, said Thursday.

“I am optimistic that that the extension will provide people with more of an opportunity to express their concerns and to learn more about the proposal.”

The deadline for public comment is the end of October.

The public is invited to comment on the Coast Guard plan

Send comments to:

The Ninth Coast Guard District
1240 East Ninth Street, room 2069
Cleveland, OH 44199
fax: (216) 902-6055

Check Out the September Beaver Beacon