Water Quality and Improvement Projects

 

Lake Improvement Report  by Al Johnson

Several years ago, some of us were concerned that very little of the funds collected by the Minnesota State Legacy Fund (established in 2008 to protect the environment and funded via a state sales tax), would be coming back to this area.  That is not the case now.  Last fall, we applied for several grants from the Pine County AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) Fund that is sourced through the Legacy Fund.  We applied for $18,000 to chemically treat up to sixty acres of Curly-leaf Pondweed (CLP), $5,000 for cutting CLP and $8,000 to create an Aquatic Plant Management Plan.

We did receive grants for the chemical treatment and for harvesting CLP, but the management plan fund request was not approved.  However, the County did something better—they hired Wenck Associates to do a county wide plan, which has turned out to be money well spent.  Thanks to Caleb Anderson, Pine County Land and Resources Manager, for his efforts in this area.

We have been working with the DNR and Wenck to determine the best locations on the lake to conduct chemical treatments.  With Wenck’s help, we have narrowed it to four areas: west of the Pokegama Creek inlet; southeast of the island; south of Tuxedo Point; and south of Clapp’s Bar.  In order to treat within 150 feet of shore, we need the permission of the property owners.  To this end, we have mailed out permission requests to about fifty property owners.  We need authorization from a continuous line of owners to treat any area, so it is important that everyone mail back their form.

Naturally and justifiably, we have had questions about the safety of chemical treatments.  The material safety data sheet for the chemical, Aquathol K, states that there are no known carcinogens.  Effects most often seen were redness or rashes on the skin when exposed to a concentration of 1000 ppm.  The toxicity limit for bluegills is over 1000 ppm and over 200 ppm for freshwater invertebrates.  The chemical is applied to CLP areas at a concentration of just 1 ppm, so it is far below the limit for any damage to human skin, fish or invertebrates.

We will probably not be able to treat sixty acres, but unused money will remain in the county fund and we can use the money in subsequent years.  The treatment of these areas is only part of what will be done.

The Aquatic Lake Management Plan will require ongoing assessment of plant status throughout the lake and especially in the treated areas.  This will determine the effectiveness of treatments and help identify what native species will take the place of CLP or if other invasive species move in, such as Eurasian watermilfoil.  As you can tell, this is going to be an ongoing battle, but we are making progress.