Aug 30, 2010

Cattails and Minnesota

This is an interesting Pioneer Press article on a similar invasive plant problem: Cattail Catastrophe. Thanks for sending this, Barb.

". . . Where native cattails once stood, sprinkled among bullrush, smartweed and other plants, now there's almost certainly a vast lawn of narrow-leaved cattails or their hybrid offspring. These relative newcomers are taller, with narrower, darker-green leaves and slimmer "corn-dog" spikes at the tops. They outcompete the natives, upsetting the ecological balance by creating a monoculture that's inhospitable to other plants, animals and birds. . ."

We have quite a few cattails on our lake, but I'm probably not observant enough to be able to recognize which type we have. Having seen how thick and aggressive some of the cattails have been on the southwest corner of the lake, I'm betting they are the "narrow-leaved cattails or their hybrid offspring." Some of you really have a barrier from geese and other wildlife! Of course, you can't see the lake or get anywhere near it, either.


Anonymous said...

Did you catch the part in the middle of the piece where the DNR official admitted that the agency was hamstrung by its own rules? if this is the case, then would it not be appropriate to bring the rules up-to-date to apply to evolving conditions and open to a degree of common sense in their interpretation and application.

One definition of a "weed" is "a plant growing where it is not wanted." I wonder how often the word "weed" appears in the DNR book of rules? 

Best wishes,

Neil Vanderbosch, the DNR aquatic-plant-management specialist who worked on that issue, said the agency tried to accommodate the group but was hamstrung by its own aquatic-plant-management rules.

"I tried everything I could to help them out," Vanderbosch said. "But it just didn't fit into our rules the way they were written."

Vanderbosch said the agency is especially vigilant about not setting precedents because other applicants would want the same treatment.

Asked whether the rules should be changed to address hybrid cattails, he said he hadn't fully considered the ramifications.

T.W. Day said...


I can see their reluctance to opening up rules to interpretation and common sense. The DNR is pretty much a vacuum in that regard. Issuing one of our neighbors a blanket permit to destroy all of the goose eggs, on his property and the island, shows an inability to do much thinking and a complete disregard for those residents who disagree with that action.

The problem in that bureaucracy is that no one takes actual responsibility for their actions. In a functioning business (a variety that also seems to be vanishing), an employee who violated reasonable rules and caution would be fired or demoted. The DNR and much of the state government bureaucracy appear to be tenured. I can't imagine what they could do to get fired for incompetence, negligence, or even lethargy. With our budget imbalance, you'd think they would be on edge to prove their value to taxpayers, instead of arrogantly flaunting their authority. I'd think anyone who can't find at least $500 million to cut from the DNR's budget missed out on some basic math classes.