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Weeds and water, simply stated

August 31, 2006

By Tom Conroy, Minnesota DNR

You can't buy a hammer these days without a warning saying you shouldn't pound your head with it. And products may actually be less safe now because nobody bothers to read the warnings anymore.

This is just one indication of information overload. We receive so much information that we find it increasingly difficult to make a decision or remain informed about a topic. It used to be that more information was always a good thing. Now, the ability to collect and disseminate information has surpassed our ability to process and understand it.

A good example of this came across my desk the other day in the form of an e-mail from a DNR Fisheries habitat specialist. It had to do with people who have lakeshore property on three lakes in Kandiyohi County. These folks, it seems, may be suffering from information overload when it comes to what is good and what is bad for a lake.

The fisheries specialist explained that she was out checking vegetation growth on these lakes. What she discovered astonished her. On those three lakes alone, she found a total of 26 weed rollers in use. Of those, 15 were operating without a permit. And, of the 11 that did have permits, three were not operating according to permit conditions.

For purposes of clarification, weedrollers remove vegetation in lakes. Some people refer to this vegetation as "weeds." They don't like "weeds" because they can interfere with swimming and boating activities. So, they want to get rid of the "weeds," sometimes illegally.

There is a wealth of information out there about why "weeds" are so important to a lake's water quality and to fish and wildlife. The DNR web site alone devotes pages of information to this topic. Maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe there is so much information about this subject that people get lost in the maze and never get the key message.

If you want to be heard and understood, keep in mind that the more you say, the more people tune out your message. So, in hopes that the message here gets through to at least a few readers, I'll be brief:

Aquatic plants (weeds in water) are essential if you want your lake to have good water quality.

Fish and other water-loving critters are dependent upon aquatic plants.

The bottom line is this. If you want clean water and good fishing in your lake, leave the "weeds" alone.

(Oh, one other thing. If you're still mowing right down to the very edge of the lake or stream, you are helping degrade the quality of that water.)

Enough said, for now?


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