There’s a battle underway along the Lake Huron coast. Through the combined efforts of Huron Pines staff, student field trips and over 100 hours of local volunteer participation, over 10 tons of invasive European frog-bit have been removed from Alpena over the past 3 years. Despite these ambitious efforts, it’s likely frog-bit is here to stay.
The presence of frog-bit can have devastating effects on the environment, recreation, tourism and industry, and it has the capacity to grow along almost all of the Great Lakes coastline which means that it must be stopped before it has a chance to spread. The good news is that the invasive plant is mostly contained to a few specific locations in Michigan including the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary, Fletcher Pond, the Lake Huron shoreline adjacent to the City of Alpena, and portions of the Saginaw Bay and Munuscong Bay in the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
Our biggest priority is to eradicate it from the Lake Huron coastline and to keep frog-bit from moving into other inland waterways through containment methods which will require a community-wide effort. Frog-bit is so well established in Fletcher Pond and the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary that total eradication is virtually impossible with the methods we have available at this time. The best action that can be taken at those sites is to remove as much as possible from high use areas where people are entering and exiting the water and to educate people on proper cleanup of boats and equipment to prevent the spread of the plant.
This invasive plant grows in dense mats that can get tangled in boat motors, make paddling canoes and kayaks very difficult and make swimming unsafe. It can grow in ditches and canals causing damming and flooding and it outcompetes native plants which reduces habitat and nutrients for wildlife. Over time, its decomposition reduces oxygen levels, which negatively affects the aquatic food chain.
Huron Pines has helped to lead the charge in reducing frog-bit with the help of funding from the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program supported by the Departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality and Agriculture and Rural Development. Locally, support has come from The Besser Foundation and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy with leadership and volunteer coordination from the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary.
We will continue our management efforts with aggressive removal at public use and recreation sites, as well as along Alpena’s Lake Huron shoreline, increased signage about how to avoid inadvertently spreading frog-bit, continued operation of our mobile boat wash station to prevent boats from transferring the plant from one body of water to another and ongoing discussion and collaboration with partners to galvanize local support.
This summer, especially in June and July when the plant is at its most mature, we will need volunteers to help with removal. We have a goal to remove 5,000 pounds of frog-bit from high-priority locations like boat launches and other public access sites and we’d love your help. You can email email@example.com or call(989) 448-2293 ext. 21 if you’d like to get involved with frog-bit removal or are interested in leading a volunteer effort this summer.