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Eurasian watermilfoil discovered in Lake Florida

An unidentified man pulls his boat in at the public access on the north shore of Lake Florida near Spicer Wednesday. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that Eurasian watermilfoil has been discovered at the popular recreation spot. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

SPICER -- Lake Florida has become the third lake in Kandiyohi County to be infested with Eurasian watermilfoil.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday that a stand of the nonnative, invasive aquatic plant was discovered by a local angler.

Bruce Gilbertson, DNR fisheries supervisor in Spicer, said the angler had snagged the plant and recognized it from having seen it in Green Lake.

The invasive plant had been discovered in Green Lake in August 2000, and one year later in West Norway Lake.

West Norway Lake is upstream of Lake Florida in the Shakopee Creek watershed. It is possible that the infestation reached Lake Florida by natural means, according to Chip Welling, DNR Eurasian watermilfoil coordinator.

However, he said the Lake Florida stand of the plant was discovered near a boat access. That suggests it could have arrived on a boat or trailer brought to Lake Florida from infested waters.

The discovery of the infestation only underscores the importance of always checking boats and trailers and removing any vegetation when leaving a lake, said Gilbertson.

He said the DNR has been monitoring the lakes downstream of Norway Lake since the discovery of Eurasian watermilfoil there. So far there has been no sign of it in Games, Andrew, Swan or Henschien lakes, he said.

Gilbertson said the fact that it has apparently taken several years for the plant to spread downstream of Norway Lake is encouraging. It suggests that boaters are being careful.

The DNR has summer interns monitoring water accesses in the county this summer, and they will be devoting extra time to the Lake Florida area.

Gilbertson is hopeful that the plant will not prove a serious problem in Lake Florida. The lake has very diverse and well-established populations of native aquatic vegetation, and that serves to help keep the invasive species in check, he explained.

It is unlawful in Minnesota to transport water from infested waters, aquatic plants, and prohibited invasive species on public roads or to launch watercraft with them attached.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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