- How can I get rid of all these weeds by my dock?
Hold on -- that might not be a such good idea! Aquatic plants form the foundation
of healthy and flourishing lake ecosystems - both within lakes and rivers and on
the shores around them. They not only protect water quality, but produce life-giving
oxygen. Aquatic plants are a lake's own filtering system, helping to clarify the
water by absorbing nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen that could stimulate algal
blooms. Plant beds stabilize soft lake and river bottoms and reduce shoreline erosion
by reducing the effect of waves and current. Healthy native aquatic plant communities
help prevent the establishment of invasive non-native plants like Eurasian water-milfoil.
They provide important reproductive, food, and cover habitat for fish, invertebrates,
and wildlife. So in order to maintain healthy lakes and rivers, we must maintain
healthy native aquatic plant communities. Removing any aquatic plants should be
done in a manner that limits the disturbance to the overall plant community and
may require a permit from DNR. A healthy diversity of native aquatic plants can
also help prevent exotic species from becoming established in the lake.
- How does a lot of boat traffic affect the water quality of a lake?
Several Wisconsin studies have examined the
impact on lakes of boats (pdf 145kb). Generally, the studies found that
boat counts on weekends doubled or tripled on average for most weekends; water clarity
was temporarily reduced on weekends; shallow lakes and near-shore areas are more
affected than deeper lakes; and boat traffic may stimulate algae growth in lakes
containing soft-water sediments. Another Wisconsin study concludes that motor boat
traffic can reduce aquatic plants by cutting them up or scouring away the sediments
they need to grow in. Shoreline erosion from boat wake can also be problematic,
especially in small lakes and bays that are protected from wind-generated waves.
Much of these impacts can be lessened by operating boats at no-wake speeds in shallow
areas. The environmental impact of oil and gas from many of the newer boats with
more efficient engines is likely to be minimal versus the older 2-cycle motors;
however; the total effects are unknown at this time.
- Where can I learn more about the threat of invasive species to Wisconsin's
Plants or animals that are not native to lakes or streams in Wisconsin are often
referred to as "exotic species" and are considered to be "invasive"
if the species was introduced by human action to a location, area, or region where
it did not previously occur naturally; if it becomes capable of establishing a breeding
population in the new location without further intervention by humans; and if it
spreads widely throughout the new location. Viral hemorrhagic septicemia,
a deadly fish virus found in Lake Michigan and the Lake Winnebago system that can
kill a broad range of our native fish, is the latest and potentially most damaging
of these unwelcome guests. Invasive species cause more damage in some places than
in others, but generally they can crowd out native species, which in turn impacts
other species that depends on them for food and habitat, interfere with recreation,
impact industry and cost taxpayers and consumers money. The most common way aquatic
invasive species are spread to new waters is by clinging to boats, boat trailers,
or in bait buckets or bilge water. Cleaning boats before leaving a launch and getting
rid of unwanted bait in the trash are key prevention steps. Such prevention is critical
because there are no good controls for these invasive species.
- How can I get involved in protecting my lake?
Wisconsin citizens have a long tradition of protecting the lakes they love, and
Wisconsin's regarded as a national model for building a partnership among
local citizens, government, and academia to protect lakes. Learn more about the
Wisconsin Lakes Partnership and how you can
join. Two other great ways you can help: get involved in the
Clean Boats, Clean Waters program [exit DNR] and start up, or join in, efforts
to educate boaters at landings on how they can prevent spreading invasive species.
The Wisconsin Citizen
Lake Monitoring [exit DNR] Network trains volunteers how to sample water
quality and take other measurements to assess and monitor the health of their favorite