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Letter: Saving a lake, one clam at a time

I recently spent another wonderful weekend on the north shore of Green Lake.

As is usually the case with Green Lake, the water is clear, and the sandy beach on the north shore extends past our dock. How strange this year to see black clumps of zebra mussel-encrusted rocks and clams against the sandy bottom. My heart ached at the news that zebra mussels are in Green Lake.

My sadness turned to a need to somehow help the lake. But what could I do? How could I help? There is no solution to be found yet in removing zebra mussels from a lake the size of Green Lake. Actually, no one knows how to help any of our zebra mussel-infested Minnesota lakes.

I went into the boat house and retrieved a small plastic beach shovel. I started to bring to the surface zebra mussel-encased rocks. I put them in a plastic beach bucket that I then emptied to a place far from shore that received a lot of sun. The zebra mussels would dry out and no longer harm the lake.

One family member thought my efforts were futile. There were too many zebra mussels.

They changed their mind though when I pulled up a clam that was still alive but full of zebra mussels. I had to look closely to tell it was a clam. If left alone, the zebra mussels would kill this clam. I furiously scraped off the mussels from the clam. I thought I could feel the clam's sense of relief in being free at the same time feeling in myself a sense of relief in being able to help in some very small way.

I placed the zebra-free clam back in the water. I did this to two other clams that I found. I may not be able to save the lake from zebra mussels, but I could save those three clams from the zebra mussels—even if only temporarily.

Amy Burmeister Grimm