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Wixom Lake Plant Control Program

Upcoming Bottomland Herbicide Treatments

Summer 2024

Upcoming Bottomland Mowing


Plant Control Information

Nuisance aquatic plant control has historically been the primary focus of the Wixom Lake Improvement Program. In managing aquatic plants, it is important to remember that most plants are beneficial to the lake. Plants in lakes produce oxygen during photosynthesis, help stabilize shoreline and bottom sediments, and provide cover and habitat for fish and other aquatic inhabitants. The objective of a sound aquatic plant control program is to remove plants only from areas where nuisance growth is occurring. When Wixom Lake is re-filled, allowing native plants to reestablish will be essential to the success of future exotic plant management and the overall well-being of the lake ecosystem. The objective of a sound aquatic plant control program is to remove plants only from areas where nuisance-level growth is occurring. Excessive removal of aquatic plants can have negative consequences. For example, broad-spectrum herbicide treatments can result in algae blooms and reduced water clarity which, in turn, can be detrimental to the fishery. Maintaining a diversity of beneficial plants is as important as controlling nuisance and exotic species.


Exotic aquatic plant species that are potentially a threat to the Wixom Lake include Eurasian milfoil, starry stonewort, and curly-leaf pondweed. Early detection and rapid response are key to effective control of invasive aquatic plant species. Each year, biologists from Progressive Companies conduct multiple surveys of the lake to identify exotic plant locations and targeted herbicide treatments are carried out to control nuisance plant growth. The herbicide treatments require a permit from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Hamlin milfoil with minnows edit.JPEG

Eurasian milfoil


Starry stonewort


Curly-leaf pondweed

Frequently Asked Questions

Who oversees the plant control program?

Plant control activities are coordinated under the direction of the lake board's environmental consultant, Progressive AE. In a normal year, beginning in May and continuing through August, biologists from Progressive Companies conduct GPS-guided surveys of the entire lake to identify problem areas, and detailed plant control maps are provided to our plant control contractors. Progressive then conducts follow-up surveys to evaluate contractor performance, and provide status reports to the lake board.

Who conducts the herbicide treatment and mechanical harvesting work?

The Wixom Lake plant control program has historically included a combination of herbicide treatments and mechanical harvesting. This work is directly overseen by the board's environmental consultant, Progressive Companies. When the lake is refilled, both the herbicide and mechanical harvesting contracts will be competitively bid and subject to performance reviews. The contractors are only compensated for work that is performed satisfactorily. Herbicide treatments for invasive species may resume in 2026, should any be found. The need for mechanical harvesting will be assessed during aquatic plant surveys and harvesting activities will likely resume within a few years of the reestablishment of the lake and its plant community.

Who determines when and where treatments and harvesting occur?

Treatment timing and locations are determined by biologists from Progressive Companies after an analysis of survey results. Other factors such as weather, EGLE Aquatic Nuisance Control permit restrictions, and contractor availability also play a role in the execution of plant control activities. 

Why are there still plants in the lake following treatments and mechanical harvesting?

Not all plants are treated or harvested. The goal of the program is to strike a balance by controlling invasive plant species and maintaining beneficial species. We do not want to remove all the plants in the lake. This would be bad for the fishery and cause a host of other problems, such as massive algae blooms.

Is there a permanent fix to the problem?

If conditions are favorable, aquatic plants will grow. However, there are things property owners can do to help minimize the amount of plants in the lake such as limiting the use of lawn fertilizers and maintaining natural vegetation along the shoreline to act as a filter for nutrients that wash into the lake. For more information on how to protect Wixom Lake over the long term, click on the Watershed tab above.

Are herbicide treatments safe?

The aquatic herbicides that are permitted by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), are registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). Before herbicides are approved for use in public trust waters, they also undergo toxicological review by EGLE. In Michigan, aquatic herbicide use requires an EGLE permit. The permit lists herbicides approved for use in the lake, respective dose rates, and shows the specific areas in the lake where treatments are allowed. If herbicides are applied according to label instructions and permit requirements, they should pose no danger to public health and the environment.

How will I know about use restrictions?

All lake residents receive a written notice in the spring regarding pending treatments. The written notice will list all potential herbicides that may be used and what the resultant use restrictions would be. The day before treatment, the state required treatment sign will be posted in all areas within 100 feet of treatment areas complete with a list of herbicides used and the associated use restrictions. If there is no sign posted along your property, it means that your area was not treated and there are no use restrictions.

Why do harvesters stop at the end of my dock?

Mechanical harvesters are large pieces of equipment and generally need two to three feet of water depth for operation. In addition, wind and wave action can move the machines and cause damage to docks and moored boats. For liability and safety reasons, harvesting equipment is generally operated along the end of docks into deeper water, and not in between docks and close to shore. The goal of the mechanical harvesting work is to improve boating navigability and to slow the gradual build-up of excess biomass (i.e., plant material) in the lake bottom. The goal of harvesting is NOT to provide a "clean" swimming and wading area near shore.

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