Early treatments seem to be keeping invasive plant at bay

Staff report

 INDIANAPOLIS —The Department of Natural Resources is testing out an herbicide treatment in LaGrange County in an attempt to stop an invasive plant that can ruin a boating or fishing trip.

Most natural lakes in Indiana have Eurasian watermilfoil. It starts growing early in the season and often starves native species forming dense canopies making fishing and boating especially difficult.

The DNR is targeting Stone and Atwood lakes. In previous years, Eurasian watermilfoil occupied as much as 17 percent of surface area at Atwood Lake, but now is hard to find. Stone Lake is showing similar results where Eurasian watermilfoil once occupied 28 acres of the 116-acre lake.

DNR officials have been treating the lakes annually for the past two years in late April, which is a couple months earlier than comparable treatments. The two lakes were treated with different chemicals, each designed to target watermilfoil but benefit native plants.

As many as 10 native species can be found in each lake and each have species categorized as rare or threatened in Indiana. That’s according to Rod Edgell, an aquatic biologist with the DNR Lake and River Enhancement Program or LARE.

“We believe the timing of these treatments is critical to the selective control of Eurasian watermilfoil and possibly the reduction in the population over time,” Edgell said. “The plant is often present and growing before most native species. So, by treating it early we can control milfoil and give the native plants an advantage throughout the growing season.”

There have been similar results with other Indiana lakes using the early-season treatments. This treatment period may not work with every lake and comes with the risk of needing more treatment later in the summer that would come with additional costs.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources LARE Program and local lake associations have provided funding for the treatments.

For more information on other aquatic invasive species and how to prevent their spread see InvasiveSpecies.IN.gov.

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