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MADISON — Warmer weather and water temperature are spurring the growth of aquatic plants and increasing calls from waterfront property owners for help in controlling the plants.
State aquatic plant specialists encourage property owners to contact the Department of Natural Resources first before taking any steps to reduce or control the plants, which provide important fish and wildlife habitat, anchor sediments and provide other benefits.
“Native aquatic plants are an important and crucial component of healthy lakes, bogs, streams and rivers and it’s important to handle them with care,” says Scott Provost, the DNR’s newly hired aquatic plant management statewide coordinator.
“The fond memories that many of us have of growing up on lakes swimming, boating and discovering frogs, fish, and dragonflies depend on the clean water and habitat aquatic plants provide.”
All methods of controlling aquatic plants are regulated by the state to help protect the plants and the benefits they bring people and wildlife.
Provost says that many aquatic plants are so valuable that their presence or absence can alter the entire community of life within that area.
“Not only do aquatic plants provide food and habitat for wildlife but, also protect shorelines by slowing wave action and preventing erosion thus, you keep more of your shore,” Provost says.
Native aquatic plants can slow or prevent invasions of non-native plants like Eurasian water-milfoil that form mats on the water’s surface that can hamper swimming, fishing and boating and can affect the lake ecosystem.
Provost encourages waterfront property owners to contact their local aquatic plant management coordinator before engaging in any aquatic plant management or nuisance control activities and to follow all requirements:
• Waterfront property owners may manually remove aquatic plants within a 30-foot wide path near a pier or beach without a DNR permit. No power source may be used.
• DNR permits are required when using any chemical/herbicide in the water.
• Lawn chemicals must not be used in the water and property owners should be careful when applying chemicals to their lawn, following all label instructions and not applying near the water.
For more information about aquatic plants and links to a listing of local DNR plant management coordinators, search the DNR website dnr.wi.gov for “Aquatic Plants.”