Lake Management District working to control invasive species

By Dave Fidlin


With summer well underway, officials in the Whitewater-Rice Lakes Management District (WRLMD) are embarking on an annual rite of passage: working to rid the bodies of water of invasive species.

WRLMD, which has oversight of Whitewater and Rice lakes and serves property owners living along the bodies of water, is in the midst of an aggressive weed harvesting effort.

Larry Brady, a WRLMD board member, heads the harvesting efforts. Harvesters are collecting weeds at 9 a.m. Saturdays. Riparian owners are being asked to place weeds at the end of their piers.

Brady said the weed harvesting will continue well into the future. No firm deadline has been set for collection.

“Basically, we’ll keep doing it until there aren’t any weeds any longer,” Brady said. “Our role is to try and keep it under control. We do what we can.”

Like any ecosystem, there are a number of variables that can create different results from one year to the next in Whitewater and Rice lakes.

Last year, Brady said weeds cropped up early and died out rather quickly. By contrast, he said weeds made their appearance late this year and have been stubborn.

“Once (the weeds) came in this year, they came in with a vengeance, he said. “Some of it has to do with water levels. Everything is cyclical.”

This year, WRLMD is tweaking its treatment method for weeds. An herbicide is again being used to address unwanted species.

But unlike years past, the organization is using global positioning system (GPS) technology to identify areas within the two bodies of water that are in the greatest need of treatment.

“This is a more high-tech approach, and the depth of different parts of the lakes are taken into account,” Brady said. “This allows us to give a more precise dosage.”

The state Department of Natural Resources reports zebra mussels – a foe for many bodies of water in Southeastern Wisconsin – are on the decline this year throughout the Southern Lakes region. DNR has not given a firm explanation for the decline.

Brady said Whitewater and Rice lakes are following suit with the regional trend. He theorizes a number of factors – including low water levels last year and the subsequent laying of a foot of ice this past winter – contributed to the decline.

“I see some (zebra mussels) under the lowest layer of my shore rocks,” Brady said. “Some people still see a lot around their piers. Most see fewer. The year is young.”

Brady said WRLMD is also going to spend time this summer focusing on carp management.

“They tend to muck up the water,” Brady said of the bottom-feeding, scavenging species.

WRLMD also is focusing some of its efforts on curtailing the nearby goose population by discouraging the feathered species from taking up residence in the vicinity of the two lakes. In years past, residents have expressed concern about the overpopulation of geese.


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