/ Articles / Minocqua Kawaguesaga Lake Protection Association partners with Aquatic Plant Management to fight invasive species

Minocqua Kawaguesaga Lake Protection Association partners with Aquatic Plant Management to fight invasive species

July 03, 2020 by Beckie Gaskill

Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) can cause a variety of problems in local lakes and rivers. The Minocqua/Kawaguesaga Lake Protection Association (MKLPA) is doing what it can to fight that invasive invader through a partnership with a company called Aquatic Plant Management, LLC.

The partnership creates an aquatic restoration program for all riparian owners, giving those stakeholders access to discounted rates for restoration work.

EWM is a concern in many Northwoods lakes. It behaves differently in different water bodies, however. In some it seems to stay in check, with limited detrimental effects. On other waterways, though, its effects are more pronounced. 

EWM grows early in the year, often starting out before the ice is off the lake. This gives it a distinct advantage over native weeds. It reaches the top of the water and can form thick vegetative mats, robbing later-growing native plants of the sunlight they need to survive. EWM grows in the littoral zone where sunlight penetrates all the way to the sediment, which is typically in the 6-15 foot range.

This invasive species can even make swimming and boating difficult or impossible in areas where it thrives. For that reason, in many lakes, steps need to be taken to control EWM as much as possible.

Some of those steps is hand pulling and DASH, or diver assisted suction harvesting. Residents and visitors to Lake Minocqua and Lake Kawaguesaga this summer can expect to see both happening on a regular basis, according to Andrew McFerrin of Aquatic Plant Management. This manual removal of EWM will work in conjunction with permitted herbicide application, which is already happening in the lakes. It will provide an integrated pest management plan that will serve to control this problem invasive.

Aquatic Plant Management is a limited liability company formed in 2013 in Minocqua by three friends who grew up in, or spent their summers as children recreating in, the pristine lakes of the Northwoods. This fostered their love of the lakes, and a deep desire to protect them. Co-owners Andrew McFerrin, Christian Wahman, and Nick Johnson are dedicated to fighting invasive species in Northwoods lakes. This partnership will allow riparian owners discounted services in their mutual fight against EWM.

“Allowing riparian owners to join this effort not only cleans the nuisance plants in front of their property, but also increases our overall acreage of treatment.” MKLPA president Sally Murwin said. “This aggressive plan is on the leading edge of EWM removal and we look forward to the year-over-year results to come.” 

“We’re excited to partner with an organization that shares our passion and enthusiasm for protecting area lakes,” McFerrin said. “Many of our Aquatic Invasive Species removal specialists and their families have enjoyed the waters of Lake Minocqua and Lake Kawaguesaga for generations. We are eager to reduce and manage the EWM population for future generations of MKLPA members and visitors to enjoy.”

The partnership 

There are several objectives of this undertaking. First and foremost is the desire by both entities to promote the health of Minocqua and Kawaguesaga lakes to all riparian owners. The project looks to increase awareness of the aquatic invasive species (AIS) problem on the lakes and to increase engagement and growth of the lake association. The partnership also looks to identify and create additional funding for the fight against AIS around the lakes.

Both the Minocqua/Kawaguesaga Lake Protection Association and Aquatic Plant Management, LLC would like to remind the public to stay at least 200 feet from the dive boat when they see it on the water. The team will use a red flag with a white diagonal stripe to signify that a dive team is in the water.

Property owner lake association members can call Aquatic Plant Management at 715-438-3269 to schedule a time for an estimate on hand removal along their property edge. Manual removal of AIS is allowed without a permit, making the process less cumbersome. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does have a restriction on how large of an area can be treated this way.

Per Wisconsin DNR Chapter 109, “Removal of native plants is limited to a single area with a maximum width of no more than 30 feet measured along the shoreline provided that any piers, boat lifts, swim rafts and other recreational and water use devices are located within that 30-foot wide zone and may not be in a new area or additional to an area where plants are controlled by another method.” 

At this time, the aquatic restoration program is considering hand harvesting only. However, depending on the situation at any particular property, including the density of the EWM population there, the partnership may consider conducting DASH. DASH removal does require a permit from the DNR.

Lake property owners looking to do more to help with the AIS problem on Minocqua and Kawaguesaga can contact the association at 715-356-1149 or go to http://minocquakawaga.org for more information. The website will also detail progress as information becomes available.

Because EWM can fragment easily, and one fragment can create an entirely new stand of EWM, when property owners find it floating near docks, piers or swim platforms, it is a good idea to remove those fragments or clumps and dispose of them properly.

Once removed, property owners may use them for compost if they so choose. EWM and other invasive species attract nutrients from the lakes they invade, making them very useful as compost. Alternatively, Aquatic Plant Management will remove the weeds from the lake and bring them to their disposal site.

Services will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, McFerrin said, so those interested in EWM removal should get their estimate scheduled sooner rather than later. The Minocqua/Kawaguesaga Lake Protection Association will handle invoicing and billing based on dive logs received from Aquatic Plant Management.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at [email protected]

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