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THE CITY OF BELLINGHAM received damage from the storm that moved through the area Tuesday, July 11. The county shop had major damage to their roof, while debris from homes was scattered throughout the community. Many trees were damaged or uprooted due to the high winds. The Big Stone Lake Area received anywhere from a half an inch to over an inch of rain from the storm.



Curly-leaf pondweed boosts water clarity on Big Stone

Until the last couple weeks, most of Big Stone Lake was barely navigable due to thick, rope-like, green weedy plants that grew up from the lake bottom to the lake's surface. Boats and recreational watercraft were overheating with weeds plugging the intakes and getting stuck on the props. Anglers and recreational users were wondering, "What is happening to the lake?" "What are these weeds?" "How did they get here?"

Then about a week or so ago, the weeds disappeared. Boaters can navigate the entire lake, and the water is clearer than it has ever been.

According to Chris Domeier, MNDNR area fisheries manager I division of fish and wildlife, the weed is actually an aquatic invasive plant species called "curly-leaf pondweed". He is quick to point out that the MNDNR did not put it into Big Stone Lake.

Curly-leaf pondweed was first noted in Minnesota in the early 1900s and has since spread to numerous lakes. It was first noted in Big Stone Lake approximately 15 years ago, said Domeier.

Curly-leaf pondweed often begins growing in winter. Big Stone had more curly-leaf pondweed this year than last, and more last year than the year before. The fact that there was not much snow to cover the ice last winter, created a greenhouse effect allowing the sun to shine through on the plant, resulting in continued growth in the winter.

Curly-leaf pondweed reaches maximum density during June, and then dies-back in July.  Many native species of rooted plants have increased in abundance in Big Stone Lake during recent years as well, and overall the water clarity has been better.

Big Stone Lake has really changed in the last 10 years, and at an increased rate the last three years,  said Ryan Kelly of Lagoona Guide Service. He refers to both the curly-leaf pondweed at the north end of the lake and the increased natural weeds at the south end. Even though the entire lake has weeds, the lake seems to be flourishing right now. The weeds are a positive thing for water clarity, and are bringing back more pan fish.

"You can see the rock reefs by Manhattan Island, and see the walleye in the middle of the lake. It's pretty unique to see it all unfold," said Kelly. "As for the curly-leaf, it is a nuisance, but the weeds are there and are going to suck up the phosphorus. We need to embrace it."

The weeds bring more fishing opportunities, said Kelly. Pan fish and crappies are starting to come back around, blue gills are taking hold, all because the fish can hide in the weeds and grow.

Domeier says, "However, we still have major blue-green algae blooms during summer and early fall also. These are complicated processes and I can’t give an exact answer as to why things have changed. There is plenty of phosphorus in the lake to allow both the algae and rooted plants to reach high densities. The rooted plants do better during years with less spring run-off which results in clearer water which allows them to grow from the bottom of the lake easier."

The MNDNR and SD Game, Fish and Parks do allow lakeshore residents to control aquatic plants that interfere with aquatic recreation. Minnesota information can be found on the DNR's website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/shorelandmgmt/apg/permits.html

"Although rooted aquatic plants do hinder swimming and boating recreation, and can be difficult to fish in, they provide very valuable habitat for numerous species of desirable fish, especially yellow perch," Domeier said. "So, although there are times during the year when the plants make fishing difficult, fishing overall ends up being better, especially during the fall and winter for yellow perch.

Large areas of open water are nice to have for tubing, jet skiing, etc., unfortunately, lakes around here that have low densities of rooted plants tend to suffer from extreme blue green algae blooms, and often aren’t suitable for such recreation, he said. This was the case with Artichoke Lake last year. It was full of stinky blue green algae.

Big Stone Lake usually has the smelly blue green algae, but this year hasn't seen it yet, due to the curly-leaf pondweed and other aquatic plants. Phosphorous keeps the weeds and blue green algae in the lake. Plants such as curly-leaf pondweed grow and thrive on the phosphorus, which comes from runoff into the lake from not just agricultural fields, but lawn fertilizers from any home in the entire watershed, on both sides of lake. When the plants die-back in July, they release that phosphorus which will turn into the smelly, blue green algae.

"I guess the bottom line with our shallow prairie lakes is that we can expect to have either dense rooted plants, dense algae blooms, or a combination of both," he said.

Lake Traverse, does have a fair amount of native plants, but not invasive species, such as curly-leaf pondweed. Artichoke Lake had a lot of curly-leaf pondweed in 1988 and 1989, but it has died-back in recent years.

Most invasive species come from outside the country. These invasives don't have any natural predators here. Other areas of the world have eco-systems with predators such as certain bugs to keep them in check, said Domeier.

The invasive species get into lakes from boaters carrying it in on their boats or trailers. It is important that boaters clean their boats and trailers thoroughly before launching their watercraft into any lake.


City’s Downtown Festival set Thurs.

The Big Stone Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Revitalization Committee is hosting its “Downtown Festival” on Ortonville’s main street this Thursday, July 20, from 3 to 7 p.m.

The public is invited to stroll through the downtown businesses, get a goodie bag and purchase a ticket to enter into a drawing for Chamber Bucks.

Live music will be provided by Ortonville’s Lee Kanten, Dan Angelo  and the Swingtime Band.

Food will be served by the Haiti Mission goup and there will be a special offered at Headwaters Grill and Bar.


 

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