Watervliet Township sets Paw Paw Lake project public hearing
By Annette Christie The Watervliet Township Board held their May 18, 2020 meeting via teleconference. Clerk Patt Bambrick led the meeting. Trustee Joe Stepich provided an update on the Paw Paw Lake Special Assessment project with the presentation of the 2020 work plan. The lake improvements include measures designed to reduce the percentage of invasive and nuisance species, reduce total phosphorus in the water column, reduce algal blooms, decrease nutrient inputs into the lake, increase percent cover and diversity of native vegetation, and document and assess existing resources and fish and wildlife habitat, along with recreational and aesthetic values associated with the lake to identify areas of potential improvement, enhancement or restoration.
The estimated work plan expenses are $185,940 to include: Spicer Group Inc./GEI Consultants of Michigan, Inc. lake and drain monitoring, analyses, reporting, drain project planning and public hearing $114,700, PLM weed management $51,240, legal counsel and public hearing $15,000, and other expenses associated with the public hearing, web domain, and miscellaneous in the amount of $5,000. The second phase of the lake project, which was approved in 2016, requires that a public hearing be held every four years in presidential election years, during the month of June. Although this is not required by Public Act 188, this process was approved voluntarily by both Watervliet and Coloma township boards. With the approval of resolution #2020-05, the Watervliet Township Board approved the setting of the public hearing.
The Joint Lake Improvement Special Assessment District Public Hearing (with Coloma Charter Township Board) will be on June 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. and will be held electronically. While discussions had been held about holding it at Coloma High School’s auditorium, the executive order could affect that and to avoid re-posting and re-publishing, the decision was made to hold it electronically. Both boards, members of the public, those included in the special assessment district, and the media may participate in the public hearing through Zoom/Telephone. All landowners within the Special Assessment District will receive the notice of public hearing via first class mail. Participants will be able to submit questions in advance or will have an opportunity to ask questions during the hearing. The public hearing will include an overview of the prior four years of the project and a report on work being recommended in the next four years and beyond. Following the public hearing, both of the township boards will make the decision to either continue the lake improvements, continue the lake improvements with specified changes, discontinue the lake improvements, or discontinue the entire project all together.
Other business In other business the township board approved bills in the amount of $234,120.32, of which $32,770.51 was payroll related. It was announced that the landfill passes that the township usually distributes every spring will once again be delayed given the Governor’s extended stay home order through May 28, 2020. Bambrick said that when the township hall opens once again to the public, they will make them available. The township board did discuss the scheduling of next month’s meeting, set for June 15, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. The board decided to wait until the next meeting on June 15 to decide when they will open the hall back up to the public. Governor Whitmer has issued an executive order to allow for local municipal remote meetings to occur through June 30, 2020.
Bambrick announced that they will have ballot proposals to consider for the upcoming election cycle. The library millage proposal will be put on the November ballot. The Pride Care ambulance service report showed 11 priority 1 calls for the month of April, with an average response time of 5 minutes 50 seconds. There were 22 priority 2 calls with an average response time of 5 minutes 55 seconds. The Watervliet Fire Department responded to 42 calls in the month of March, 10 in the city, 31 in the township, and 1 mutual aid call. There were three structure fires, two grass fires, two alarms, two accidents, and 31 medical calls.
Fishing The spring like weather with the on again off again showers and sunshine has not put much of a damper on the fishing communities’ activities. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reported good fishing on Lake Michigan. King salmon were biting on spoons, moonshine baits and stingers in 60 to 120 feet of water and were in the top 50 feet. Lake trout were found in the same depth but were on the bottom and were being taken by Laker Takers. South Haven pier was quiet and the rivers are all running high. Inland lakes were producing crappie and bluegills. They were biting good in about 10 feet of water, and could be caught from shore.
Ellinee Bait & Tackle shop on Big Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reports a steady stream of anglers going out. A lot of them are families. The crappie and bluegill have been biting good and walleye are doing the same. All the local inland lakes seem to be producing nice catches and minnows seem to be the bait of choice for most catches.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced it plans to reopen Grand Haven State Park’s channel parking lot (known locally as Fisherman’s Parking Lot) to public parking starting at 8:00 a.m. Friday, May 22. Those using the parking lots or visiting the park are reminded to follow COVID-19 guidelines at all times, for their own safety and the safety of others. Keep the following guidelines in mind when heading outdoors: Go out only if you’re feeling healthy. Unless it is essential, long-distance travel is discouraged. Keep at least six feet between yourself and people from other households. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. If the parking lot is full when attempting to visit a park, recreation area, boating access site or trailhead, leave and choose a different nearby location.
Hunting The DNR would like hunter input on the proposed 2020 deer hunting regulations. A new package of regulations designed to simplify rules and remove barriers to participation was introduced to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission at the Commission’s regular monthly meeting, which was conducted in an online and conference call format due to COVID-19 concerns. The regulations are scheduled for an NRC vote in June. Read the full NRC proposal memo or the justifications behind the 2020 proposed regulation changes at Michigan.gov/Deer. Hunters are encouraged to review the proposed regulations and share their feedback either through an anonymous survey or by email to NRC@Michigan.gov. All comments must be received by June 5 and will be shared with members of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission.
There are still opportunities to get out and hunt turkeys this spring. Hunt 0234 is a statewide hunting license valid for public and private lands, except public lands in Unit ZZ (southern Lower Peninsula) and is valid through May 31. Check leftover license availability and learn more about spring turkey hunting at Michigan.gov/ Turkey. The 2020 bear and elk application periods are open through June 1. Apply online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses. For bear and elk hunting units, season dates, quotas and other important information, go to Michigan.gov/Bear or go to Michigan.gov/Elk. While hunters love to see wild turkeys in the spring, the birds are a less welcome sight in some residential communities. Found throughout most of the state and even in some suburban areas, turkeys are drawn to birdseed – bird feeders and agricultural fields often attract wild turkeys – so use care when feeding songbirds. What can someone do to discourage a campout in their yard? They can start by removing all food sources that can attract wild turkeys. Gentle hazing techniques should be used to deter turkeys. Start by making loud noises and waving to frighten off turkeys. Open and close an umbrella while walking toward a turkey to scare it away. To note, male turkeys can be aggressive during breeding season.
It is tick season again. Technically it’s always tick season but now that we are outside more, we are more aware of them, and the diseases they can carry. These critters are most commonly encountered in habitat edge zones, like trail sides. They crawl up the stems of grass or onto the outer leaves of small shrubs and wait with their front legs extended. When an animal or person passes by, the legs catch in the fur, or clothes. The tick then moves upward to warmer spots, such as the head and neck, which indicate a good place to eat. The tick nymphs (the second of the three life stages) feed on chipmunks and white-footed mice that are common in yards. These rodents are frequently asymptomatically infected with the Lyme bacterium. The bacterium passes into the tick as it feeds on the rodent. This is when a tick is most dangerous to humans. Because they are so tiny (size of a poppy seed), a tick nymph that then attaches to a human is unnoticeable. An infected tick has plenty of time to feed and, consequently, pass the bacterium to the human. For everyone concerned about ticks on outdoor clothes, put everything in a hot dryer for 15 minutes. This will kill them by drying out their bodies. Additional practical information can be found at the University of Rhode Island’s Tick Encounter Resource Center website (www.tickencounter.org).
The Nature Center building will be closed until further notice. The trails remain open and free during this time. Online donations are being accepted. Check www.sarett.com and Sarett Nature Center on Facebook for activities planned to help the community practice social distancing in the out-of-doors.