by Andrew Dotseth
If you’ve lived in Minnesota for any amount of time you will have undoubtedly read or heard a story about invasive species.
Synonymous with any conversation of invasive species in this state is the aquatic nuisance known as Eurasian water milfoil.
This aquatic super-villain has earned its reputation. Speak with any lake property owner or avid fisherman of an infested lake and the response you receive will be exacerbating. This nefarious character’s aptitude for overtaking native plants and eclipsing the surface of the water with its matted overgrowth cannot be overstated.
The most recent Department of Natural Resources designation of infested waters list includes over 250 bodies of water in Minnesota where Eurasian milfoil or one of its hybrids has been confirmed. Anoka County was listed as home to 10 lakes infested with Eurasian milfoil. That number now grows to 11 with a recent discovery in Ham Lake.
While water monitoring was being performed in late June, Eurasian water milfoil was believed to be found in and around the boat launch of Ham Lake. The Minnesota DNR has since sent out a specialist and confirmed the finding.
It’s not likely it was introduced by some devious ne’er-do-well with malicious motivations. Rather it’s likely an outdoor loving individual missed a nook or cranny on their boat or trailer.
Regardless of intentions, this should provide us with a memorial of the importance of being diligent in inspecting our aquatic recreational vehicles.
In a state with over 800,000 registered boats and only one of them needed to transport an invasive species, it seems insurmountable to prevent a looming and inevitable fate.
Yet, the motivation for prevention should be stronger than ever.
Once Eurasian water milfoil is introduced to a body of water it is nearly impossible to eradicate. Only small fragments of the Eurasian milfoil plant are needed to re-establish colonies.
While frequent users need little coercing to view this as a concern, the financial cost of managing invasive species should be motivational to all.
The current methods of dealing with Eurasian milfoil include mechanical harvesting, chemical treatment and biologically stocking the Minnesota native milfoil weevil to infested waters. None are typically successful in eradicating the problem and all have an annual financial cost.
Whether you utilize our natural resources on a regular basis or rarely venture beyond the concrete savannah of the cities, the effect on Minnesotans is felt indiscriminately as we all share in the cost of treatment.
While this new infestation in Ham Lake is saddening, it is my hope that it will serve as a reminder to stay conscientious and proactive in preventing the spread of invasive species.
Andrew Dotseth is a water resource technician with the Anoka Conservation District.