Iowa DNR working to control invasive water plants - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa DNR working to control invasive water plants


An invasive plant is spreading through many Iowa lakes and the Mississippi River.  Brittle naiad has now been found in 28 Iowa counties and about 40 bodies of water.  So why is brittle naiad a problem?  And what is the state doing to stop its spread?

Many folks enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming in the waters of Lake Macbride in Johnson County.  The lake is much clearer than last summer.  That's because a pesky plant called brittle naiad is dying off, thanks to some chemical treatments.  Brittle naiad has been in Iowa for a few years.  But with some trial and error, the DNR has now learned the best ways to treat it.

"In the case of a shallow lake like Martens Lake, if you can draw it down, you can draw it down and kill off brittle naiad because air and sun exposure will kill off brittle naiad.  In other deeper lakes like Macbride, where it's not feasible to draw it down, you have to treat it, use a chemical treatment," said Joe Wilkinson with Iowa DNR.

Those treatments are important, because the invasive plant can spread quickly.  As its brittle name implies, it breaks apart easily, allowing it to take root wherever it ends up.  And once it spreads, it can suffocate natural plant life and take away some of the joys of lake-going.

"It's sort of like an underwater carpet.  You're paddling through it or motoring through it, and it can really slow you down paddling and clog up your boat propeller.  You'll have to clear that out," Wilkinson said.

Treatments are doing wonders to keep serious brittle naiad invasions at bay.  But it's important if you use any waters known to have problems with the plant, to do your part to stop its spread.

"We try to pass the word to boaters and anglers, canoeists, to people like that, to check their boat, check your trailer when you get out.  And clear off any vegetation that's there.  Maybe it won't spread, maybe it will.  But we'd rather leave it right where it is and throw it away instead of risk the chance of it spreading to another body of water," said Wilkinson.

To remind you of that, signs are posted at every boat ramp along Lake Macbride and other lakes where brittle naiad or other invasive plants have been spotted.  With everyone's help, the spread of these pesky plants just might come to a halt.

If you spot brittle naiad at any body of water in the state where invasive species signs are not already posted, you're encourage to contact the DNR so that it can follow up with the appropriate treatments to curb the problem.


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