Michigan Aquatic Weed Removal Guide
Updated: Jun 14, 2019
My boat dock is surrounded by seaweed and it keeps getting stuck in my boat propeller. Can I get rid of them without getting in trouble?
As long as you don't dump pesticides into the body of water, the short answer is absolutely! For more info about what plants are common pests in Michigan and what laws you have to follow to get rid of them, read on.
Are there any invasive plants that I should be aware of?
There are 51 documented invasive aquatic plants in the Great Lakes region. 18 are so bad they're classified as "Prohibited" in Michigan because they're harmful to the environment and/or humans. Most of them kill other native species and get in the way of swimming, boating, and fishing.
Some are worse - They have been found clogging waterways and causing flooding. A few kill off fish populations if left alone. A couple can even be a real fire risk in the summer. Most survive freezing in the winter and grow back year after year! It's best to take care of them early and often, so if you're starting to show signs of them appearing it's time to take action today.
The worst offenders are:
What do I need to know about the laws of Michigan before I start cutting?
We encounter people with misconceptions of questions about the law out at trade shows all the time, so we sifted through the various laws and departments to make it easier for you. Laws can change and we’ll update these guides as quickly as possible. As always, you should contact your local office of the Department of Environmental Quality or Department of Natural Resources for advice on your exact situation.
Note: AquaticWeedTools is not a law firm. As such, AquaticWeedTools does not provide legal advice. The material in this guide does not constitute legal advice nor does contributing to the guide or communicating with AquaticWeedTools or other contributors about the guide create an attorney-client relationship.
The State of Michigan lets you do a lot to clear up the weeds in your ponds or lake without a permit if it’s your land and you’re using mechanical tools. Chemical treatments require permits for even small areas, and disobeying the law has heavy penalties if your neighbors report you. (Including possible jail time!) If you like being able to do what you want with your land without a lot of red tape, tools are the way to go!
Michigan DNR and DEQ is OK with you using a mechanical "harvesting tool" to clear out aquatic weeds or hiring a team to use mechanical tools for you. Mechanical removal without permits is OK unless you are clearing it out of one of the Great Lakes, which we assume you aren’t doing. No permits required, just don't try to clear up Lake Superior.
Chemical treatment involves a lot of red tape, can be expensive and is very hard on everything from native plants and wildlife to your neighbors and family. Also, if Michigan State law isn't properly followed you could be charged with a misdemeanor and a significant fine, and even up to 6 months in jail if you miscalculate and hurt someone or the wildlife. (Michigan 324.3313, Section 2.)
In Michigan in particular, cleaning your lake or pond with a cutting and harvesting tool is not only legal but when you consider the cost of permits and chemicals (up to $800.00-$1500.00) or the legal costs of cutting corners, it’s definitely less expensive and safer to just get an aquatic weed rake and do it yourself.
OK, I won't dump a bunch of poison in the lake to kill everything. What tools should I use to clear out the weeds around my dock?
The Aquatic Weed Rake from Prime Waters Manufacturing is designed to clear pesky weeds out with minimal effort, and safe enough to be used by any contractor or anyone in the family.
For Michigan weeds, we recommend using the Dock Weed Rake and Dock Weed Knife, and the Surf/Sand Rake to remove them once you're done cutting them down. Simply dispose of them like you would yard debris, compost them or there are companies you can hire to haul them away.
Having a clear pond all summer has never been so easy and safe for your family. If you have any questions at all, reach out to us. Our experts are ready to help!
Sources and Links
Aquatic invasive species in Michigan - MSU Extension
Common Aquatic Plants of Michigan
EGLE - Aquatic Plant Management Information - State of Michigan