Sports and Outdoors

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Property owners, anglers can help spot aquatic invaders

Indiana DNR Release:

Lakefront property owners and anglers are being called upon to help stop the spread of invasive, non-native aquatic plants into lakes by being on the lookout for them.
Identifying and reporting these plants to local lake associations, conservation organizations, and appropriate state officials may help stop them from spreading further and causing more damage to lakes.
Non-native aquatic plants damage lakes by spreading more rapidly than native plants, disrupting lake ecology, creating nuisance conditions and interfering with recreational use of lakes.

Doug Keller, aquatic invasive species coordinator with the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, said that organizations like the Indiana Lakes Management Society (ILMS) help greatly with this effort.
“If detected early, efforts to stop the spread of invasive plants can be less costly and more effective,” said Ed Spanopoulos, ILMS president. “We can serve as a source of people who locate new invaders and help participate in early responses to control them.”

We do not know how many non-native plants are in Indiana lakes nor everywhere they are spreading. Costs to control invasive species could be staggering.

The recent appearance of hydrilla in Lake Manitou in Rochester has already cost the state more than $700,000 in control efforts and forced closings of public boat ramps to prevent its spread to other waters. The total cost at Manitou to eradicate the plant is expected to approach $1.5 million.
Since 2006, DFW biologists have stepped up efforts to inspect lakes at risk of hydrilla, but they can't be everywhere, so they need help from private citizens.
“We don’t have an official early detection program in place,” Keller said. “As you can imagine, not every puddle of water can be inspected. That’s how local folks can help.”

Keller said the most important thing that can be done in advance of new invasive plants showing up in a lake is to identify and organize people who should be involved and making sure that they know what to look for.
“That’s where our ILMS members can help,” Spanopoulos said. “We have folks who live at the lakes, are on the water all the time, and are trained to spot non-native species.”
Spanopoulos says ILMS plans to research other organizations to determine what role their members may play in assisting with the early detection and prevention programs .

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