Letter to the Editor: Save the Mill Ponds

The Clarkston Mill Ponds Lake Improvement Board just issued its annual budget and assessment calculation for 2023. The bulk of the proposed budget is for aquatic plant management. Only Lower Mill Pond parcel owners are invoiced, and for reasons not described, there are no provisions for plant management/removal in the Upper Pond.
I encourage the board to issue to all parcel holders information about the findings relied upon in developing this management plan. In fact, the ponds are of such community-wide value that all area residents should be informed about pond management plans.
The current pond management approach does not appear to be significantly preserving and enhancing the quality of the ponds. It is unclear whether board studies have included assessments of the the impact of widely-fluctuating water levels and chemical treatments on aquatic and riparian species, and property values.
Are dam modifications needed, and to what extent will dam owners be held proportionately liable for pond conditions and restoration?
Each year, the ponds’ weed problem seems to worsen, to the extent that increasing areas of the ponds are morphing into marshes, with all the accompanying aesthetic and odor impacts. It is well established that dams are major cause of erosion and soil sedimentation, and the mill ponds seem to grow more shallow each year as sediment is arrested and deposited.
This results in more sunlight reaching pond bottoms, generating more vegetation which decays and fertilizes for future, larger weed crops. It is inevitable that pond dredging will be required in the future if the ponds are to be preserved.
The board alludes to interest in drawing down a pond fund reserve.
To the contrary, I believe that more strategy and effort are needed to secure funds—locally, and from federal and state sources to the extent possible—and quickly develop a strategic, long-term and visionary plan for returning the ponds to their original glory for community benefit.
Mike Fetzer

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