April 25, 2011

The Department of Natural Resources aims to take down some bad plants in Meserve Lake, Lake George, Wall Lake, and Lake Wawasee this summer with the help of federal funds.

The effort will be funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which makes available federal grant money to help Great Lakes states prevent the introduction or spread of invasive species.

A large portion of the grant will go toward eradicating two of the state's most recently detected aquatic invasives, parrot feather and starry stonewort. Funds will be used to contract private certified applicators to do the treatments under the direction of DNR biologists.

Parrot feather is native of South America. The plant was discovered in northeast Indiana at Meserve in Steuben County in 2006. The plant resembles its close relative, the better known Eurasian watermilfoil. Like its cousin, parrot feather can harm fish populations and interfere with recreational activities.

"Currently Meserve Lake is the only natural lake in Indiana with a population of parrot feather and our primary goal is to make sure it doesn't spread," said Rod Edgell, biologist with the DNR Lake and River Enhancement Program (LARE).

LARE-funded treatments on parrot feather began in 2008. Last summer only one small parrot feather plant was observed in Meserve, indicating the goal of eradication may be close.

LARE-funded treatments to control starry stonewort began in 2009 at Lake George in Steuben County and at Lake Wawasee in Kosciusko County. This unique type of algae has also been confirmed at Wall Lake in LaGrange County.

Starry stonewort is native of parts of Europe and Asia, and is a relative of Indiana native species chara. Both species resemble a rooted plant; however, unlike the smaller chara, starry stonewort can grow more than 5 feet tall in water as deep as 25 feet. 

Multiple treatments for starry stonewort were completed last summer on Wall, Wawasee and George. The results haven't been as positive as for parrot feather. The larger size and heavy use of Wawasee and George complicate finding the plant and keeping it isolated. 

"Starry stonewort has proven to be a tough plant to control," Edgell said. 

Local residents and visitors can help prevent the spread of invasive species, which can be transported on boats and trailers to other lakes and rivers. Boaters should clean off boats, boat motors and trailers before leaving any lake.

For more information on other aquatic invasive species and how to prevent their spread see  For additional information on parrot feather and starry stonewort, call Edgell, (260) 244-6805.

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