2006-06-22 / Opinion

Les Cheneaux Can Learn From Minnesota's 'Spreading Nightmare'

To the Editor:

As an islander who has been coming to Cedarville for 60 years, and who is also a resident of Minnesota, I was very concerned when I read in the Weekly Wave that Eurasian Milfoil has been found in Cedarville Bay. This is a dangerous, noxious weed that spreads vociferously once it becomes implanted in an area. We have been fighting its spread in Minnesota for years through education and law enforcement. Once established, it can be very difficult to eradicate. It loves cold water and can reproduce very fast and in many different ways. If a stem breaks off, it can start a new plant. This fact should be of significant concern to boaters, both to those who launch their boats and those who put their boats in the water for the summer, but may have reason to travel to areas containing milfoil. A simple stem stuck on a boat propellor could innocently carry the weed from one bay to another. There, it could root and cause devastation. Eurasian Milfoil can clog up a bay so that one cannot boat or swim due to the proliferation of the weed. Fish are at risk for dying because it kills off native aquatic plants which fish need to survive.

In Minnesota, many lakes have been affected with this weed, with devastating results. Clean, pure, northern waters have become weed-infested nightmares. However, the state has aggressively fought back. In addition to finding ways to fight Eurasian

Milfoil, such as harvesting the weed, implanting weevils into the water that eat the weed, and using herbicides to kill it, it has undertaken an education campaign to make people aware of the problem and to take personal responsibility for containing the weed.

Areas that contain Eurasian Milfoil are roped off, and no boats are allowed in them. Boats which are launched are inspected by police, and must be washed down before leaving a launch area.

As part of the public education program, boaters are advised of the following: 1. All plant materials from your boat, anchor, trailer, and anything that entered the water after you take the boat out of the water and before you leave the boat area must be removed. 2. Livewells and bilge water must be drained before leaving a boat access area. 3. Bait buckets must be inspected to make certain they don't have any plant material on them. Never dump live fish from a bait bucket into a body of water. Boats, trailers, and tackle must be washed down with hot water to kill hitchhikers that could be transported into other lakes.

I see the problem of containment of this noxious weed as being even more challenging for our Les Cheneaux community, for most boats are not removed from the water until the end of the summer. Consequently, there is ample time to cruise the islands and spread the nightmare. This is a problem that must be addressed immediately and aggressively by our community to save our beautiful waters.

I applaud Bob "Lakeside" Smith of the Les Cheneaux Watershed Council for sounding the alarm and addressing this formidable problem. Please support him and the township board by attending the informational meeting on July 11 to discuss the three proposals for treatment of Eurasian Milfoil. This community

has fought lampreys , low water, cormorants, and zebra mussels. However, this may be the worst problem we have ever faced that could destroy our islands. A community effort to address it must take place now, or we will face the consequences.

Judi Minges Big LaSalle Island, Urie Bay White Bear Lake, Minnesota

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