The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invasive species and fisheries staff, along with two divers, removed Eurasian watermilfoil from a newly discovered patch in Lake Le Homme Dieu near Alexandria in Douglas County on June 29.
Last week an angler discovered the 20- by 20-foot patch of Eurasian watermilfoil growing in the middle of the lake between the Krueger's Creek and Rotary Beach public accesses. The discovery was verified by a DNR staff aquatic plant biologist.
The process took about five hours. Divers manually pulled the plants from the area, clump by clump, using a seine net to surround the patch in an attempt to contain milfoil fragments and prevent them spreading.
"We hope our efforts will prevent Eurasian watermilfoil from widely establishing in the lake," said Nathan Olson, DNR invasive species specialist. "Thankfully, we were able to respond quickly to deal with the problem."
Nevertheless, it is likely that there are other Eurasian watermilfoil plants elsewhere in the lake, based on past experience, Olson said.
Kyle Kirkeby of Ortonville discovered the milfoil while he was fishing on the lake early last week and immediately reported it to the local DNR office. Kirkeby said he has fished around Eurasian watermilfoil on other lakes and was able identify it based on its "red tint."
Olson pointed out that this is a great example of how public outreach and education can bring the DNR and citizens together to help prevent the spread of invasive species. Kirkeby said he appreciates how "passionate and diligent the DNR is about aquatic invasive species prevention and was happy to do his part to prevent the spread of milfoil."
As a follow up to manual removal of the patch, the DNR will conduct additional surveys of the lake to determine if further actions will be needed. Unfortunately, based on past experience, Eurasian watermilfoil is likely to re-appear in the lake.
To help stop aquatic hitchhikers such as Eurasian watermilfoil, the DNR urges boaters to be extra thorough in examining their boats before they leave a water access. Minnesota law prohibits boaters from transporting water from infested waters, aquatic plants from infested waters, and other prohibited invasives. Boaters may not launch watercraft with invasive species attached.
By taking a few simple steps when leaving a lake or river, boaters and anglers can do their part to help stop the spread of several aquatic hitchhikers, such as Eurasian watermilfoil.
The key steps are to clean, drain, and dry boats and equipment: To help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, anglers and boaters are required by law to:
Drain bait buckets, bilges and live wells before leaving any water access.
Remove aquatic plants from boats and trailers to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Pull the plug on their boat and drain all water when leaving all waters of the state.
Keep the drain plug out while transporting water-related equipment.