Milfoil threatens more than lakesEurasian water milfoil is one of the most widely distributed of all non-native aquatic plants. It originates from Europe and Asia, but was introduced to North America many years ago.
Editor’s note: Winners were recently chosen for the Water Wisdom Scholarship Program, an essay contest sponsored by the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District and the Douglas County Lakes Association. This year’s topic was, “How are Exotic and Invasive Species Impacting our Lakes and Wetlands, and What Can Citizens Do to Help Stop and Manage Their Spread and Impacts on Water, Fish, and Wildlife Resources?”
The winners were Andrew McDaniel, Miltona, first place and $500 scholarship; and Todd Frie, Osakis, second place, $250 scholarship. All scholarship funds will be used for books or tuition.
McDaniel’s essay was printed in Wednesday’s Echo Press. Frie’s work is printed below.
By Todd Frie,
Eurasian water milfoil is one of the most widely distributed of all non-native aquatic plants. It originates from Europe and Asia, but was introduced to North America many years ago. It has been confirmed to be in 45 U.S. states and in Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
It was once commonly sold as an aquarium plant. Milfoil grows best in fertile, fine-textured, inorganic sediments. It does not rely on seed for reproduction. Instead it grows from shoots started in the fall, thus beginning spring growth earlier than other aquatic plants.
Because it can tolerate lower water temperatures, it quickly grows to the surface and forms a canopy that shades out the other beneficial native plants.
It reproduces extremely rapidly and can infest an entire lake within two years of introduction to the system.
Milfoil has many impacts on our lakes. It has less value as a food source for waterfowl than the native plants it replaces. Because it grows so quickly and becomes very dense, small fish have a very high survival rate. However, the larger fish cannot get through easily to get their prey.
Thick growth of milfoil also degrades water quality by depleting oxygen levels. The thick beds also restrict recreational uses like swimming, boating and fishing. They give the appearance that the lake is "dead."
These thick mats can also cause flooding and they create good habitats for mosquitoes. They can also clog water intakes and result in rotten mats that end up lying on the beaches, which takes away from the natural beauty of the beach.
Every citizen can do their part to help stop the spreading of milfoil from one lake to another lake. Learning to identify milfoil and reporting any new sightings to the appropriate authorities is a major key in preventing the spread to other area lakes. All equipment, including boats, motors, trailers and ftshing/diving equipment, should be checked and cleaned immediately after leaving a lake for any fragments of the weed.
Lakeshore owners need to check for new growth of the weed and control them before they spread. With the Department of Natural Resource's permission, the plants can be hand pulled, cut or chemically treated along the shoreline.
All in all, milfoil invasion to the lakes of Minnesota is a very real threat to every resident of the state. Our state is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and those lakes generate a lot of revenue from tourists. If milfoil continues to spread, the tourists aren't going to come to the state. This will impact all of us and could result in loss of business, higher taxes, etc. So, people of Minnesota, stand up and take action! Learn what you can do to help out our state and its economy before it’s too late.