If you think rooted aquatic plants are nothing more than nuisance "weeds," please think again.
Webster's Dictionary defines "weeds" as a plant of no value. To the contrary, aquatic plants are a valuable component of each lake system.
Aquatic plants provide habitat for fish, wildlife, loon and other waterfowl. They help maintain the quality of fishing by providing an excellent location for certain fish species to spawn. They are home to the small fry that hatch and the small insects and crustaceans that are the fry's vital food supply.
Aquatic plants help to improve water quality. The plants add oxygen to the water and stabilize the bottom sediment to prevent silt from being easily stirred up by wind and waves creating a murky lake. They help maintain water clarity by filtering runoff sediments and nutrients, and they protect shorelines from erosion.
Fact is, native plants are best left alone. While you might think aquatic plants are a nuisance, a permit from the DNR often is required to remove them. Without a permit, lakeshore homeowners may cut (by hand) or pull submerged plants in a 2,500-square-foot area adjacent to their property, and they can clear a channel 15 feet wide to open water. The removed vegetation must immediately be moved away from the lake. A permit is required to control cattails, wild rice or bulrushes; to use chemical controls; to install a weedroller; or to control submerged plants in areas larger than the 15-foot channel or 2,500 square feet. Be on the safe side, check with the Brainerd DNR office about a permit. Call 828-2535.
To protect our waters, learn to live with aquatic plants. They are vital to our lakes and, in turn, the quality of our recreation, outdoor enjoyment and area economy. For more information on the value of aquatic plants, see "Saving the Water's Edge" at www.mnlakes.org under Resources/Best Management Practices.
(This column is sponsored by the Crow Wing County Water Planning Board and the Minnesota Lakes Association -- www.mnlakes.org)
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