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The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District launched an online tool in July for boaters and other lake users to report invasive species and help map unwanted vegetation. (Courtesy of Lake Minnetonka Conservation District)

Map made available by the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District 

Lake Minnetonka boaters can now report invasive species using a new online mapping tool from the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District.

The conservation district launched the online tool in July and has since been inviting boaters to report invasive species and vegetation (unwanted or desirable) exactly where they saw them.

“If you’re out on the lake, you can actually do it on your phone fairly easily. Or, if you come in and you want to put it onto the map, you can do that from a computer as well,” said Vickie Schleuning, executive director of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District.

Visitors to the conservation district’s website (lmcd.org) will find the mapping tool by clicking the “Report Vegetation” link on the front page and then clicking “Map Your Concern Here.”

From there, boaters can click and drag themed markers to areas of the lake map. The options include reporting excessive aquatic plant growth that may be restricting recreational activities or noting an area where an unrecognizable aquatic invasive species is spotted.

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Lake Minnetonka boaters can now report invasive species using a new online mapping tool from the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District. (Courtesy of Lake Minnetonka Conservation District)

“We’re trying to get a larger look at vegetation management overall. And then we’re really hoping that this will help bring awareness to looking for suspicious types of plants,” Schleuning said.

After an icon is clicked and dragged, a comment box will pop up. The comment box includes a hyperlink to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Invasive Species website which provides additional information and pictures of invasive species. Users are also encouraged to upload a photo of the suspected invasive, if possible, within the comment box. Visitors of the site can also leave ideas, suggestions or “something I like.”

“We have a large lake. It’s 14,000 acres and 121 miles of shoreline, so the more eyes, the better,” Schleuning said.

The reports and comments will also help inform the conservation district’s work to put together its Lake Minnetonka and Aquatic Invasive Species Master Plan. 

The project to develop the master plan launched in June and will continue through the end of the year. According to the conservation district officials, the plan will help provide a holistic and scientific approach to effectively addressing the current and future health of Lake Minnetonka.

While the plan is being put together, the conservation district leaders decided to suspend, at least for this year, its program of mechanically harvesting Eurasian watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed.

According to the officials, the decision was prompted by the loss of grants over the years for the program and the scrutiny of vegetation treatment methods, such as mechanical and chemical.

The harvesting program and treatment alternatives will be reviewed by a team of experts hired to help with creating the master plan. The plan will also include an analysis of costs and potential funding sources for a program to control invasive species.

“We’re trying to get a larger look at vegetation management overall,” Schleuning said.

 The efforts to protect the lake comes after last year’s discovery of starry stonewort in nearby Medicine Lake. The invasive algae can form dense mats that choke out native plant species and interfere with boating, fishing and swimming. 

For more information, a link to a survey and a new comprehensive vegetation map, visit lmcd.org/aquatic-invasive-species/new-ais-initiatives.

 

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