This drone image shows a linear “aquatic garden” just off Inspiration Point on Big Glen Lake. What will this same location look like in two years?
GLA, in partnership with Zero Gravity, LLC and owner Dennis Wiand, now has the 2019 shoreline survey data available for analysis. In today’s world, drone technology has proven to be very helpful in benchmarking our shoreline as well as helps us learn critical information about shorelines of the Glens and Fishers as well as the Hatlem Creek sub-watershed.
Using high resolution imagery and from a “birds eye view,” those shorelines will again be evaluated in a variety of ways and noting the changes from our first survey done in 2017. What will we be looking for? More than you might think!
We will be looking for evidence of shoreline erosion, measuring shoreline buffer health, finding locations for invasive plants– both aquatic and land-based– and riparian practices that play out in both good and not so good ways as it relates to our lake health.
For example, looking for what works best for lake health, we like to count how many riparians are using lake water irrigation for their shoreline buffer, hoping to find that there are more systems being used now compared to two years ago. In this case, the more systems the better versus using well water to feed your irrigation system. Remember, using a lake water irrigation system eliminates the need for fertilizers in our sandy soils, and protects our groundwater that ultimately feeds our lake.
Another example of looking at the data is to find the locations where there are engineered sea walls made of wood, steel, or concrete. Our hope is that we will see fewer sea walls this year compared to two years ago. Engineered sea walls are not the best way to protect your shoreline from erosion and more lake friendly choices are available for your consideration.
The GLA would also like to monitor our aquatic gardens for the presence or absence of aquatic invasive plants. We are keenly interested in how the size of aquatic gardens have changed. All lakes depend on aquatic gardens to produce needed oxygen in the water so life can flourish, so monitoring the area they occupy is important as we evaluate the health of our lake.
Stay tuned in future emails about what the 2019 shoreline survey data will reveal. In some cases, the data may affect you directly or in other cases it may serve as a way for you to learn more about not only your shoreline, but what is happening around all the other neighboring shorelines.
Have you heard of “Gateway Communities?” Glen Arbor and other nearby cities and villages are called Gateway Communities due to their proximity to a national park. Learn more of what it means at these upcoming conferences.
Tuesday, September 24th
Glen Arbor Township Meeting Hall
Business Owners/Entrepreneurs Meeting – 9:30 to 11:00 AM
Board Workshop- 12:30 to 2:00 pm
Municipal Organizations/ Non-Profit Groups/Residents – 3:30 to 5:00 PM
Wednesday, September 25th
The Garden Theater, Frankfort, MI
Municipal Organizations/ Non-Profit Groups/Residents – 9:30 to 11:00 AM
Board Workshop – 12:30 to 2:00 PM
Business Owners/Entrepreneurs Meeting – 3:30 to 5:00 PM
For additional information on Gateway Communities, their issues and opportunities, click here: SBGC Talking Points
Yes! Our lakes are special but did you know that when it comes to Swimmer’s Itch, Glen Lake is not unique? Nearly all “up north” lakes have some form of the itch; in fact this is the case on a global scale. A well-documented ecological zone of itch-causing worms exists at or near the 45th parallel and not just across North America, but Europe as well. So what can we do?
Management to reduce itch remains an important part of our strategy. GLA removed record numbers of broods this year. 171 mergansers from 17 broods were relocated, while on other nearby lakes, there were zero to two broods. Why are our numbers so much higher than other lakes in the region? It may be that the great August storm of 2015 created an abundance of nesting habitat, making our watershed irresistible to merganser ducks. And we’ve continued to receive unprecedented reports of new broods into August! Is it possible that hens that evade capture with their chicks are capable of producing a second brood in a season? These highly intelligent and adaptable waterfowl continue to provide scientific mysteries to solve.
Even with our best efforts to control the issue, it is clear that parasites causing Swimmer’s Itch will continue to persist in the natural environment. Our ecosystem is more complex than we ever imagined. As of last year our research efforts identified six different worms (one was a newly-discovered species!) with 3 different host birds in our watershed alone. So what else have we learned and what can we do to avoid the unpleasant side effects of exposure? The snails that shed the itch-causing worms live on the bottom and need light to survive. In the ever clearer waters of our lakes they have been found in water up to 8 feet deep, so swim very deep! The light seeking worms are shed by snails in the morning, quickly moving to the surface where they hope to find their preferred bird host. Avoid swimming before noon! Preferably swimming after 4 pm when worm numbers will have dropped significantly. The worms concentrate in the upper 18-24 inches of water and are easily moved by wind. Do not enter the water if there is an onshore wind at your location. The wind can accumulate very high numbers of worms at the shore. Some swimmers have reported application of waterproof sunscreen or baby oil before entering the water and applying hand sanitizer and/or vigorously toweling off when leaving the water to be helpful. But not all worm species are created equal and given the wide variety of itch causing worms in our watershed these methods are only partially effective.
So after all that, what can you do if you still get “the itch”? Treat it just like you would an annoying batch of mosquito bites. Avoid scratching! Scratching or breaking open the skin will increase the itchy sensation, prolong recovery and can lead to a secondary skin infection. Use a topical itch relief product such as an ice pack or hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or other anti-itch cream. Take an
oral anti-histamine such as Benadryl for general itch relief. Remember that while in more severe cases the “spots” can remain visible for weeks, the itchy sensation should subside after a few days with no lasting effect. Take appropriate measures to “Swim Smart” and keep enjoying the water!