Protect Your Lake from Invasive Species: Enroll in the Exotic Aquatic Plant Watch

By Emma Costantino,
Outreach Coordiantor
North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area

For some, spending time out on a lake is a quintessential part of summer in Michigan. People come to swim, fish, paddle, and enjoy as much time out on the water as possible. Unfortunately, invasive species could make it more difficult to enjoy these summer pastimes. Local lakes are already seeing the effects of invasive species. Many invasive plants grow quickly and form dense mats in the water that create a variety of problems. They can alter water quality, disrupt fish and wildlife habitat, impede recreation, and even lower the property values of houses surrounding the lake. Many invasive plants can also spread by fragmentation, which means that just a piece of the plant can form a new infestation.

Once an invasive species has become established in a lake, it is difficult to remove it. This is why it is important to identify aquatic invasive species early on. Many lakes in the region are already dealing with the problems caused by Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive plant. Once a population of Eurasian watermilfoil forms in a new lake, the chances of removing it entirely are slim. Instead, those who live by the lake must pay a contractor to control the plant every year. This is why it is important to identify invasive plants early on, before they become established in a lake.

Those who want to do more to protect the quality of their lake can enroll in the Exotic Aquatic Plant Watch (EAPW). The EAPW is part of MiCorp’s Cooperative Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP), a statewide program which trains people to monitor the water quality of their lakes. Within the CLMP, there are many parameters people can enroll in to measure different components of water quality, including the EAPW.

Participants in the EAPW will be trained by Michigan State University (MSU) Extension staff on how to sample for and identify five aquatic invasive plants. Several of these plants are on the state watch list, which means that they have not been found in Michigan yet, or have only been detected in small populations within the state, but are causing problems in neighboring states. It is important to monitor for watch list species and other invasive plants, to prevent them from spreading to more lakes.

Even lakes that are already being monitored by a company can still benefit from being enrolled in the EAPW. When it comes to watching for aquatic invasive species, there is no such thing as too many eyes on the water. The more people there are involved in monitoring for invasive species increases the likelihood that if an invasive plant is in the lake, it can be spotted before it is impossible to eradicate.

Enrollment for the 2022 monitoring season is already open! To enroll, visit There is a $30.00 fee for enrolling. To offset this cost, the North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA) will be providing free sampling tool kits to enrolled lakes. These tool kits are a $120.00 value and can be reused for years. In addition to containing everything needed to sample for invasive plants, the kits also contain a Secchi disk for lakes enrolling in the Secchi disk program. For more information on the EAPW or to receive a free tool kit, contact Emma Costantino by calling (313) 570-6853 or by emailing

For those who are interested in the program and would like to learn more, there is a free online training session coming up on May 10th. Participants will have the opportunity to learn all about the program and have their questions answered by MSU Extension staff. You can register online by visiting

For more information about NCCISMA, visit To learn more about this grant and the other work NCCISMA does in the region, contact the Program Coordinator by calling 231-429-5072, or email

Free sampling tool kits are available for lakes enrolled in the EAPW

Eurasian watermilfoil. Image Credit: Alison Fox, University of Florida,

European frogbit is a state watchlist species. Image Credit: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,