Ecology is the relation of organisms to one another and to the physical surroundings. In Elkhart Lake we have a diverse aquatic plant community. The aquatic plant survey conducted by the DNR showed twenty-two plant species and two types of macro-algae present. Of the twenty-two plant species collected, twenty are native and two are exotic. The two non-natives are Eurasian water milfoil and Curly-leaf pondweed. Both of these plants are labeled invasive. This means that they could negatively impact the ecology of the lake.
ELIA has taken a four-pronged approach in an attempt to control the spread of these invasive plants.
- Education with the Clean Boat/Clean Water program (see tab)
- Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting – DASH
- Chemical controls in small areas
- Volunteer hand pulling
DASH is an environmentally friendly method to remove small areas of invasive plants from the lake. A diver will pull the plant from the bottom and then it is sucked to the surface, captured and safely removed from the waterway.
Chemical controls are regulated by the DNR and must be applied by a licensed applicator. A permit system is used that dictates which plant species may be controlled, the products to be used, the time period and the area where they may be applied. ELIA has only used this method in problem areas too large to hand pull.
Voluntary hand pulling is encouraged as it can target the invasive plant and the plant can be removed from the lake. We have had a workshop teaching interested citizens on the proper technique of hand pulling. It is important to get the root of the plant and to make sure no fragments are left to float away as EWM can propagate through fragments of the plants.