Conservation Minnesota

Decisions, Decisions: Dealing with AIS

The Star Tribune published a thoughtful opinion piece September 10, 2012, written by Steve Gunther, President of the Lake Minnewasta Preservation Association.  His article was titled, “Coming Attractions in Aquatic Invasive Species.”

He makes two important points.  Nasty aquatic invaders like zebra mussels that confront us now are but an early vanguard of other invasives that likely could reach our lakes.  If you think things are bad now, just wait.

He cites quagga mussels, which are bigger and even more destructive than zebra mussels, and hydrilla, a plant described as “milfoil on steroids.”

Here are two more of the many that may be headed our way:

African Elodea is currently present in Massachusetts and Vermont as well as California and several southern state and Canada.  Here are its characteristics:

  • Tall and long-lived
  • Forms submersed masses that shade out native plants
  • Readily spread by fragmentation
  • Highly adaptive; can tolerate a variety of conditions.

Pond water starwort has been found in such diverse places as New England, New York, several southern states and Wisconsin.  It creates dense floating mats of leaves.

Gunther’s second point is a plea to Minnesotans not to weaken their resolve in the fight to fend off existing aquatic invasive species and those species likely yet to come.  While the cost of doing so is not cheap, neither is the cost in lost tourism dollars to our state’s economy and the recreational value for our own citizens.

Next week’s topic explores how invasives get into the US to begin with.

Darby Nelson

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