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Stop “Treating” Our Lakes and Fish
by Jeff Bosshardt


Have you ever been out on the water and noticed orange DNR signs? Maybe you've been out near a favorite weedbed and seen orange DNR buoys. The sign and buoys I am talking about are put out by the Department of Natural Resources and they are letting you know the area has been chemically treated. I have witnessed this unnatural process take place more and more often lately and it seems to begin and end with landowners who want all the aquatic vegetation killed in an area.

Why should this concern all sportsmen and not just anglers? The answer to me is obvious: It is unnatural and damaging to our natural resource. I always thought that aquatic vegetation was a natural resource that provided habitat for the natural creatures that depend on them for life. The way this "treatment" (killing) works is that an lake association or lakeshore owner can request a permit from the DNR stating why they want to "treat" an area. The reasons need to be legitimate and can include providing access to the lake or preventing weed choking that affects boating navigation.

The chemical toxins sprayed into the water are so powerful that the person applying them must wear gloves and a gas mask. I have been in areas when this “treatment” is occurring and it will burn your eyes and make breathing difficult—not to mention the horrible smell. The moment the chemicals hit the water it turns milky white and will immediately begin to eliminate the oxygen causing everything to die. When the process is completed the DNR is required to post orange signs that let us know the area is now unsafe to swim in or eat fish from for ten days! Talk about some strong stuff! I usually have noticed this procedure in May or June near the spawning shorelines and shallow bays where milfoil and pondweed are present. It needs to be noted here that many of these types of weeds will die off NATURALLY when the water temperatures reach about 70 degrees. The worst thing about this poisoning is that it usually happens where and when the fish are in the middle of their spawning cycle. I have personally witnessed dozens of times where an area absolutely teeming with life like crappie, sunfish, and bass spawning beds and a "treatment" will occur. In a period of 24 hours afterward the same area will become completely lifeless. I'm talking not a single sunfish! All the eggs, fry, and adult fish are gone. I'm hopeful the adult fish are able to relocate after such a traumatic experience, but I know all those eggs and fry are decimated, a whole spawning cycle wasted unnecessarily. I'm sure there are also young of the year northern and walleyes that are affected as well.

Last year one lake that was hit really hard by this “treatment” was Prior Lake . Prior Lake , as you may know, holds the state record for the 8 largest bass (weighing in at 39 pounds) caught during a bass tournament. Last May the lake was "treated". Then in early June 50 teams competed in a bass tournament and 95% of the teams failed to weigh in 12 pounds for 8 bass on a beautiful, sunny day. Anglers said the weeds were totally gone in the entire lake. Prior Lake is not the only victim to these “treatments”. Aquatic vegetation is disappearing at an alarming rate on Lake Minnetonka also. While last year three bays were chemically treated, there is now talk to expand these “treatments” to the entire lake.

Now at the State Capitol, legislation is attempting to amend the regulation of aquatic vegetation. H. F. No. 0893 and S. F. No. 0506 will drastically increase these unnatural “treatments”. This legislation would remove control of our aquatic vegetation away from our DNR to lakeshore owners. If a landowner would request a permit that landowner must be granted one to mechanically or chemically treat 100 feet of shoreline by 150 feet lake ward to include reasons such as esthetics. This would cause the “treating” of our lakes to increase by estimate of 5-6 times the current rate, according to one DNR official.

I will admit that we do have to manage excessive aquatic weed growth on some of our lakes, but this way too extreme! Aquatic vegetation, including Eurasian Milfoil, is here to stay and we all need to learn to live with it. Let mother nature take its course. I can think of dozens of ways our DNR could use our tax money to improve our natural resources. Isn't it ironic that aquatic vegetation actually improves the quality of our lakes by making them clearer (weeds filter out debris). cleaner, and improve fishing by providing habitat?

Many people from the DNR agree that too many chemicals are not good for our lakes. I've talked to a lot of people about what can be done, so here are a couple easy steps you can do:

1) Call your legislators! 2) Document what you see when this procedure happening. Take down the date, time, lake, area, name of company, whose name is on the permit etc...Take photos. 3) Call the DNR with your finding and tell them how you feel. 4) Do something!

God Bless and Good Fishing,  
Jeff Bosshardt