1. Use phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer -- Phosphorus, which helps grow green luscious lawns, promotes weed-growth in lakes. Just leaving the last few yards of lawn near the lakeshore phosphorus-free isn’t enough. Studies show that phosphorus reaches lake waters from all parts of a lakeshore lot. Fertilizers have three-number labels; the middle number indicates phosphorus content. The numbers 30-0-4 on a package of fertilizer indicates there is no phosphorus. Without doubt, phosphorus in lawn fertilizer is a major contributor to Lake Mitchell’s weed problem. For more information check our Phosphorus-free page.
2. Operate personal watercraft responsibly -- While most operate their Wave Runners responsibly, those who race close to shore, docks, and other boats frustrate and anger lake users. PWC’s must be operated at slow no-wake speeds under these conditions: Within 150 behind boats other the PWCs, in less than 2 feet of water, and all watercraft must be operated at slow no-wake speed within 100 feet of docks or rafts, marked swimming areas, people in the water, moored or anchored vessels, and shorelines.
Fisherman become especially irate when Jet Skis and Wave Runners operate their watercraft in the evening. Michigan Law makes it illegal to run personal watercraft in the last hour before sunset or before 8 AM.
For the DNR's watercraft regulations on Lake Mitchell, click here.
3. To help prevent swimmer’s itch, do not feed the ducks -- The parasite that causes swimmer’s itch uses ducks and snails as hosts before infesting humans. Children often are most affected because their skin may be more sensitive, and they spend time playing in shallow water where the swimmer’s itch parasites are more concentrated. Infected swimmers may notice red spots within a half-hour of leaving the water. These spots may enlarge for the next 24-30 hours and may itch for a week. Toweling off may help. Others find protection by applying baby oil before swimming or taking a shower after leaving the water. By not feeding ducks, not only will you help prevent the spread of swimmer’s itch but, if fed, ducks (and geese) will congregate in that area leaving copious among of duck poop on lawns and docks.
4. Create a greenbelt -- Rather than maintain a lawn to the water’s edge, consider allowing natural vegetation to grow in the last three to six feet leading to the lake. This will slow runoff before it enters the water, allowing sediments, excess nutrients, and other pollutants to settle out. Uncontrolled runoff will alter the habitat of crayfish, mayfly larvae, and fish as well as increase phosphorus loads into the lake. Leaving a strip of natural vegetation between your lawn and the water’s edge is one of the best things you can do to maintain our lake’s water quality.
5. Clean your boat before launching in Lakes Mitchell -- It is quite likely that Eurasian milfoil first rode into Lake Mitchell on a boat. It probably was nothing more than a fragment wound in a propeller or twisted onto the frame of a boat trailer. But once in the lake, in a matter of years, it had created thousands of plants. Although no zebra mussels have been found in our lake, we need to be vigilant in our inspection of boats entering the lake to keep those tiny snails out. The Michigan Sea Grant College program offers the following suggestions for protecting our lake:
INSPECT your boat and your equipment and remove all weeds from your trailer propeller, anchor, and any other place found on your boat.
DRAIN all water from the boat motor, bilge, live well, and bait buckets on dry ground.
DISPOSE of leftover bait in a trash receptacle, not in the water.
RINSE your boat and all fishing equipment with hot tap water, OR thoroughly dry your boat outdoors for at least five days before traveling to a new lake or stream.
TEACH and help others to do the same.