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Aquatic Vegetation

Aquatic plants improve water quality and dissolved oxygen, and provide food & cover for fish and wildlife. However, when there are too many plants, they reduce the recreational suitability and navigability of the lake. The Lake Management Plan states that the proliferation of invasive curly-leaf pondweed, and overgrowth of nuisance native aquatic plants and algae are of concern.

The upper lake has the most areas that are affected. See the May 2016 & May 2017 Lake Orono concerns map.

Identification of Aquatic Plants

Curly-leaf Pondweed

In 2003, a proliferation of this exotic appeared in our lake. It is an exotic noxious weed, which forms dense mats that are difficult to navigate through. It produces stem-like turions that protrude above the water, flowers, then dies off rapidly. It grows in cool weather and even under the ice, and is the first plant to appear in a lake in the spring.

Similar to Eurasian Milfoil, if left unchecked, it will choke out a lake, making it undesirable to live on and lowering property values.

To identify this plant, please see Curly-leaf identification (PDF).

Controlling Curly-leaf

In October 2003, the Water Quality Task Force met with representatives of the DNR Exotic Species Control, Fisheries, and Hydrology departments. According to the DNR, there are three ways to control it:

  • Spot application of herbicides.
  • Mechanical harvesting, either with equipment or hand-pulling and disposal away from the lake and shore.
  • Drawdown of the water to dry, freeze and kill the roots.

The third method was deemed the least costly and most effective in the short term.

In November of 2003, the lake was drawn down to a depth of 4 1/2' to attempt to freeze and kill the plants. Overall this was a success, but it has since retaken hold.

In the past few years LOIA has obtained grants and donations and has provided funds to help manage curly-leaf pondweed via targeted application of herbicides in the public waters in the lake. In addition, individual homeowners have treated or hand-pulled curly-leaf and nuisance natives on their own shorelines (see Aquatic Vegetation Removal below).

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Aquatic Vegetation Removal

Native plants are beneficial to fish and other wildlife (such as sago pondweed, coontail or lily pads). If they are in areas where you do not boat or swim the DNR recommends leaving them alone. Removal may also enable another less favorable plant to take its place.

For removal, please see Generally, you may clear a portion exotics by hand in front of your property without a permit, provided:

  • The area cleared must be less than up to 2,500 sq. feet and
  • It must not extend more than 50 feet along the shoreline or one-half the length of your shoreline, whichever is less.
  • A boat channel up to 15 feet wide, and as long as necessary to reach open water, may also be cleared through submerged vegetation. This is in addition to the 2,500 sq. feet.
  • The plants must be disposed of on land away from the lake to prevent them from drifting onto your neighbor's property or washing back into the lake. If you transport them off your property you will need a permit.
  • Emergent vegetation such as cattails and bullrushes CANNOT be pulled without a permit. For floating leaf plants such as duckweed or lily pads a boat channel like the above may be cleared, otherwise a permit is required.
  • You may NOT use automated equipment such as draglines or automated aquatic plant control devices (such as the Crary Weed Roller, Lakemaid, BeachGroomer, Lake Groomer, etc.) without a permit.

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