Weeds – Friend or Foe?
“Weeds make the lake look terrible! There is nothing worse than having to clear your fishing line on almost every cast.” These and other comments can be heard around Lake Roaming Rock in August of most every year. While aquatic vegetation can be burdensome and unsightly at times, it’s important to understand their importance to our lake’s ecology.
Aquatic plants perform some of the same roles in our lake as trees do in a forest. While most people are aware of the consequences of poor logging practices in a forest, most are unaware of what changes in the aquatic plant community will do to their lake. Like trees in a forest, aquatic plants provide structure and food for other organisms. They also stabilize soft lake bottoms and minimize shoreline erosion by dampening the effect of waves like trees hold the soil and block the wind in a forest. These plants absorb and use nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, making less available for algae. A healthy plant community in our lake also makes the lake less susceptible to the spread of exotic plants like Eurasian water milfoil. Lake vegetation provides food for waterfowl and habitat for small fish and provides shade which limits algae growth. We are experiencing significantly less algae growth this year, but as a consequence, sunlight reaches deeper into the lake and causes greater weed production.
You can probably see why your LMC appreciates aquatic plants that play such a vital role in lake ecology and water quality. However, we also know that that a balance is necessary as too many plants can limit swimming, fishing, boating, and, sometimes, aesthetic appreciation.
One way to control shoreline weeds is a lake draw down during the winter months. Your LMC supports lake drawdowns in an attempt to dewater and freeze nuisance plants close to shore. Drawdowns have not been particularly effective in recent years because of the warm, wet winter seasons we have enjoyed. Over the years the LMC worked with the Association Board to operate and maintain expensive weed harvesting equipment to keep waterways clear of vegetation so that access to the main body of the lake from all areas including coves is maintained. While this equipment cannot be effectively and safely used in shallow water areas, the LMC has encouraged residents to manually clear nuisance vegetation from specific areas around your dock using weed cutters and weed rakes. Do-it-yourselfers may be interested in the weed raking tools described in Dick Hurwitz’s “Got Weeds?” article (see Lake Management Committee section of our website). Several local contractors are available for this service to residents who need help with their dock weeds.
Our maintenance department, in addition to their weed harvesting duties, also must maintain the pools, beaches, equipment, structures, picnic and recreational areas, roads and culverts that serve the majority of residents. Weeds are something we have to put up with for a short time so we may enjoy our beautiful lake. With no weeds, harmful algae could become dominant and that is a condition very hard to reverse.
BE LAKE RESPONSIBLE