Invasive Aquatic Plants

Beyond litter and run-off, there are other
destructive pollutants in the Lower Chippewa River Valley: invasive species. “Invasive species”, are species that are
not native to a given ecosystem and which do considerable harm to the ecosystem. The Lower Chippewa River Valley includes the
river, its floodplains, and various nearby waters including Half-Moon Lake. Invasive plant species currently found in
the Lower Chippewa River Valley include curly-leaf pondweed, purple loosestrife,
and reed canary grass. These three plants are all non-native invasive
species in the Lower Chippewa River Valley and they were all transported here by humans, intentionally as garden flowers or accidentally
by boaters and fishermen. Once present, these invasive plants harm and
degrade native ecosystems like Half-Moon Lake. Studies show that when invasive species like
curly-leaf pondweed enter a waterway they out compete and replace native water
plants which can starve native waterfowl like mallards and cause them to leave. Similarly, panfish like bluegill are also
affected by invasive plants. Research shows that invasive plants destroy
underwater ecosystems which maintain food supplies for panfish. Large game fish like this largemouth bass
find it difficult to hunt in waters invaded by invasive weeds. This prevents them from feeding and causes
a decrease in native populations. We can look at nearby Half-Moon Lake to see
how humans allow invasives species to invade through recreation and fragmentation. Fragmentation is the breaking up of large
ecosystems into smaller areas and is considered one of the major causes
of invasions in many geological and biological studies. Fragmentation is caused by construction of
roads, cabins, and farms. Apartments and boat landings like the ones
seen here on Half-Moon Lake fragment shores which creates empty spaces. These empty spaces allow invasive plants like
curly-leaf pondweed, purple loosestrife, and reed canary grass to invade says a study
by biologist Michelle Marvier. In addition, there is an economic loss as
well. Horsch and Lewis, economists, found that invasive
species lower property values eight percent in a study on Vilas County. Therefore, A $100,000 lakeside cabin would
only be worth $92,000 after an invasive infestation. The Lower Chippewa River Valley is threatened
by invasive plants like curly-leaf pondweed, purple loosestrife, and reed canary grass. These plants force out native aquatic plants
and can harm native waterfowl, panfish, and larger game fish. Invasive species are also shown to devalue
property by eight percent. To prevent the spread of invasive species,
remember that boaters and fishers can accidentally introduce invasive plants by not cleaning
their boats or discarding bait properly. Fragmentation creates empty spaces for invasions. To help, visit Clean Boats Clean Waters for
information on preventing the spread of invasive aquatic plants and our website for additional resources.

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