Curlyleaf pondweed. (DNR photo)

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working to manage an invasive plant in the Iowa Great Lakes.

As the ice melts, the DNR plans to tackle about 80 acres curlyleaf pondweed in East Okoboji Lake using an aquatic herbicide and a boat that cuts and harvests the weeds. The DNR’s Mike Hawkins says there’s no way to destroy the weed completely, but they’ll clear as much as they can to improve lake access.  “It would be a relief to lakeshore homeowners, boaters who are trying to get around in those areas,” Hawkins says, “and folks who are trying to use the public boat ramps in that area and get to other parts of the lake.”

When curlyleaf pondweed starts to grow in the fall, it produces oxygen underwater and creates habitat for fish. As the plant dies back in summer, it takes that oxygen out of the water and can pose a threat to those fish. Hawkins says the plant does have its benefits. Hawkins says, “We’ve documented an increase in water quality and clarity in East Okoboji Lake as well as an increase in number of panfish species that are growing there.”

Last year, the DNR treated 60 acres in the Iowa Great Lakes, though about 700 acres are impacted by the weed.

(Thanks to Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)