The PLOA was founded in 2006. Since that time our small organization has achieved a great deal toward protecting and improving Perch Lake and its watershed. Here is a partial listing of our past activities to give you an understanding of the need to protect Perch Lake and how donating to the PLOA will contribute to our efforts.
The PLOA originally formed when we learned from the National Forest Service (NFS) that Perch Lake had a problem with invasive rusty crayfish. We partnered with the NFS and the University of Notre Dame to improve fish habitat for perch that prey on young crayfish. We also conducted a multi-year aquatic plant inventory to catalog the existing plant life in the lake that may be at risk from rusty crayfish predation. This catalog was then submitted to and published by Michigan State University (MSU) who partnered with us in the study. We also started a volunteer effort of trapping crayfish which resulted in the removal of thousands of these invaders each year. As a result the population appears to have reached a steady state and is no longer increasing in abundance.
We next initiated an annual comprehensive water quality monitoring program to monitor current conditions and detect any potential atypical changes in lake chemistry. This program is ongoing and the data are provided to MSU for publication.
Our next challenge arrived in the form of a notification from the NFS and Bureau of Land Management that they were planning to permit a large multi-national mining company to explore for minerals immediately adjacent to the northeast end of the lake. Discouraging this unwanted neighbor required outreach to the local township commission, hiring an attorney knowledgeable in environmental law and state mining regulations, fund raising, and activating our membership to respond with their concerns during the NFS public comment period. We were successful in preventing the exploration for minerals in large part because after much research we uncovered a stipulation in the NFS forest plan that precludes mining activity adjacent to any NFS developed site. We were able to establish that the riparian lands of the NFS campground and the proposed exploration plot across the lake actually were adjacent where their bottomlands adjoined in the middle of the lake. Mining activity adjacent to the lake would certainly have ended the wilderness experience that attracts all of us to Perch Lake.
Our next challenge was a proposal by the township to allow multi-family units on smaller lot sizes along the lake. Our association joined with other lake associations in the township to discourage this change to the zoning regulations.
Next came a proposed project to replace the culverts that control the flow from the outlet stream (the Perch River) with a new expansive bridge that could potentially lower the lake level. Multiple freedom of information act requests were submitted to the NFS and multiple meetings and a public hearing with the MI-DEQ were necessary to help ensure that the resulting permit would include appropriate protections to the lake level and surrounding wetlands.
The most recent and potential serious threat to the lake is the potential introduction from invasive Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM). Each year more local lakes in the western U.P. become infested and each year our lake becomes more at risk. Through the generous funding by one of our members, we initiated a boat inspection program at the NFS boat ramp to ask boaters to allow local contractors we hired to inspect their boats and trailers prior to launch and answer a few survey questions. Virtually all boaters that were approached were appreciative of the program. From the survey information we learned that on multiple occasions local fisherman had been on lakes earlier the very same day that are known to be infested with EWM. As a result we worked with the NFS and the MI-DEQ to obtain permits to install a unique containment net at the NFS boat ramp for the purpose of containing any EWM fragments that might unintentionally be introduced into the lake. This costly program was funded completely by the PLOA members for the protection and benefit of all lake users.