Duck Lake Improvement Board hires environmental consultants

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 10:33 pm on Friday, January 17, 2014

Duck Lake, located in Crystal Township, will undergo treatments this year from two separate environmental consultants after members of the Duck Lake Improvement Board approved contracts with Restorative Lake Sciences of Spring Lake and S&R Environmental Consulting of St. Charles. — Courtesy photo

STANTON — The Duck Lake Improvement Board is starting off the new year by looking at Duck Lake differently than any other lake board in Montcalm County and board members are hoping their new approach pays off.

At Monday’s meeting at the Stanton Administration Building, board members voted to approve the hiring of two separate consulting firms to manage the lake’s weed control and beyond.

A contract with the first firm, S&R Environmental Consulting of St. Charles, was approved in a unanimous vote by the board. The firm will handle management of aquatic vegetation for one year at Duck Lake.

According to a contract agreed between the board and the firm, S&R Environmental Consulting will supply and use various aquatic herbicides for the control of “nuisance vegetation.”

The timing of the application of the herbicides will be based on lake conditions and plant growth, with treatments occurring between April 15 and Oct. 15.

From right, Duck Lake Improvement Board Secretary/Vice Chairman David Wight and Restorative Lake Sciences Scientists Michael J. Solomon and Jennifer Jermaloqicz-Jones, discuss the possibilities of Duck Lake in the future at Monday’s Duck Lake Improvement Board meeting. — Daily News/Cory Smith

According to the contract, S&R Environmental Consulting will be paid a total not to exceed $24,000.

But board members felt that the application of herbicides alone on Duck Lake is not a strong enough effort to keep the shallow lake healthy.

With an average depth of only 2 feet, Chairman Dick Walthorn said the issue of weeds on the lake is an “ongoing problem” that herbicide treatments only control, as opposed to eliminating the problem.

In a proactive effort, the board also approved a contract with Restorative Lake Sciences (RLS) of Spring Lake in a 4-1 vote with board member Bob Muscott opposed to act separately from S&R Environmental Consulting, with a focus on creating a healthier future for the lake.

RLS will be contracted for 2014 to prepare a five-year management plan for the lake after acquiring a year’s worth of data.

According to the contract, RLS will offer technical assistance and dissemination of scientific information regarding the ecological status of the lake.

The firm will also perform aquatic vegetation surveys, analysis of vegetation data, periodic water quality sampling and provide prepared Duck Lake ecology reports.

RLS will also conduct organic matter sediment sampling and make recommendations for moving forward with possible aeration or bio augmentation treatments on the lake.

The total costs of consulting services from RLS is $7,500 per year.

Montcalm County Drain Commissioner Sandy Raines, who sits on all 15 county lake boards, said Duck Lake is the first to hire two separate firms in which one firm does not act as the primary overseer of the other.

Board members such as David Wight are hoping the new approach will lead to greater benefits for the lake, such as the potential for deeper waters.

“I think this year will work as a very good learning curve,” Wight said. “What we’ve been doing (for years) is treating it and performing weed harvesting. I think trying something new is a good idea. One of the things that caught my ear during their presentation was the five-year plan. That’s really interesting because we’re not just looking at weeds, we’re looking at the entirety of the lake.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, board members approved the election of board officers in unanimous votes. Walthorn was selected chairman, Raines treasurer and Wight as secretary/vice chairman.

“He’s done a good job,” Raines said of Walthorn.

Board members decided to table the topic of the handling of the lake’s water quality until the next meeting in April.

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