I wish I had more energy to talk about the herbicide application on the lake, but John and I hit the lake at 6:30 this morning and finished at just before 4PM. 6.6 miles of slogging through lilies and milfoil. Because of GPS issues, we stayed well inside of the DNR's application map. 9 hours of plowing that swamp was more than enough work for the two of us. My everything is sore.
This was the first time I've been on the lake since early June, when the weeds took over. The lake is in terrible shape, with very little animal life left on or in the water. We saw about a half-dozen painted turtles, the same number of ducks, no snappers, no geese, no herons or egrets, no minnows or small fish, just bugs and weeds. In 14 years of living on the lake and regularly canoeing it, this was very close to the least life I have seen on it. Usually this time of the year we have birds, adolescent geese and ducks, lots of turtles sunning themselves, and minnows. Not this year.
With the lake in this kind of shape, I have to wonder what the Watershed District folks are doing when they take their monthly prowl of the lake? There is no way anyone even mildly knowledgeable would consider this healthy water: lake or watershed. The good news is that the levels are up, but the lake is, for the most part, dead outside of invasive plant species.
There are some significant patches of little-to-no lily growth that I would like to have explained. The lily outbreak began near the island beaches. In 2000, the only lilies to be spotted on the lake were on the east and south edges of the island. By 2003, that area was beginning to be overgrown as the water level was forced grossly below normal levels by the new drain installation on the east lake. After several years of low rainfall and improper lake drainage, the lilies had spread all over the lake. The sediment drainage from the freeway revision raised the lake floor dramatically at the northeast end of our lake and the normal deep end of the lake began to fill in. All of this contributed to increased plant contamination; which contributes to sediment build-up and even more favorable conditions for plants. This summer, however, the lilies have receded from the island's shores and there are several relatively low water points with very little lily infestation.
Oddly, the east side of the lake looks untouched by all this contamination. Obviously, something significantly different is happening to that side of the lake.
The caution signs should stay out over the weekend, but they can be removed Sunday evening. We have some floats on the lake marking our outer boundaries and I'll remove them Sunday. The Dow Rodeo data says we should begin to see the effects of the spraying after 48 hours. Hopefully, this time next week we will be able to use the lake again.