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Plant’s resurgence raises concern at East Lake Okoboji

May 29, 2015

OKOBOJI, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say they have few options to control the resurgence of an invasive plant that may return next year in one of Iowa’s Great Lakes.

The curly-leaf pondweed competes with native plants and can interfere with recreational activities, the Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/1SGkg4Y ) reported. State fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins said East Lake Okoboji had prime growing conditions during the winter, which included clear water and short ice cover.

“It’s one of the early growing plants that grow underneath the ice,” he said.

This year, the weed had its largest bloom in more than 30 years at the lake, but authorities say it’s expected to die out late next month or in early July.

Applying a herbicide now would be ineffective, Hawkins said. Chemical treatment for the lake could cost up to $173,000 annually if the weed is a recurring problem.

State officials have begun conversations on possible solutions for the weed problem with Dickinson County officials and neighborhood lake associations.

Executive director Lee Sorenson of the Dickinson County Conservation Board said the county will look to the state to find a solution but would be open to a partnership.

“If there’s something we can do, the county would definitely step up with the DNR to fix the issue,” he said.

Hawkins said in a letter to residents and groups that there’s “no easy solution” to remove the weed once it “has grown to the water’s surface.”

Property owners around the lake can legally manage the weeds by pulling them out nearest their private boat docks. State laws allow dock owners to clear a 15-foot area around a dock.

It’s illegal for Iowa residents to use chemicals, such as herbicide and pesticide, to control the plants.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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