Panel addresses lawn fertilizer, aquatic plants at lakes meeting
Members of the Chetek Lakes Protection Association, Inc. met for the groups eighth annual meeting Sunday, Aug. 3, at Sportsmans Supper Club.
In an effort to speed up the meetings, President Jerry Zehner announced that a panel of six guests would answer questions concerning the lakes, instead of having guest speakers as in previous years.
The panel guests were Heath Benike, Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist; Russ Fell, Barron County DNR conservation officer; Dale Hanson, Barron County soil and water conservationist; Paul Flottum, Barron County zoning administrator: Dan Harrington, water management specialist; and Jim Cahow, water resources manager.
Hanson explained the damage that improperly fertilizing lawns on lakeshore property can cause to the lake system. Property owners should take soil tests before fertilizing to determine exactly what nutrients their lawns need. Contrary to what many landowners believe, lawns that are struggling dont always need more fertilizer.
Most lawns that are not doing well need lime. Hanson pointed out Most lawns do not need fertilizer.
Hanson added that many people apply too much nitrogen and phosphorous on their lawns. Phosphorus harms the water in the lake, providing nutrients that spark algae blooms and cause the water to grow increasingly green.
Takiiig a soil test is so important, Hanson stressed. Otherwise youre shooting in the dark, and YOU dont know what your lawn needs.
Cahow emphasized the importance of preserving aquatic plants in the lakes. Lakeshore land owners need to be careful when suggesting that these plants need to he removed from the lake.
Very few of them are weeds. Cahow explained. Most of them are habitat for the fishery.
The many nutrients in the Chetek lakes are expressed in two forms, large-leaf aquatic plants or algae, Cahow said.
The more big plants you pull out, the more youre going to harm the fishery, and the more youre going to shift the lake to producing algae. he added. If you try to suppress the native plants, you leave larger areas for exotic plants to quickly come in and colonize. Cahow mentioned Eurasian water milfoil as one of these potentially devastating exotic plants.
Plants also reduce shore erosion, Cahow mentioned, by absorbing waves created by wind and boats. Aquatic plants keep sediments anchored to the lake bottom, as well. Sediments are another factor that drive algae blooms.
If lake users are having trouble navigating through thick vegetation, Cahow suggested that they work together with the CLPA to create a 20-30 foot channel through the plants. Boaters dont need five different channels going back into a bay, he concluded.
Conservation Officer Fell, who spends the majority of the summer patrolling the Chetek lakes, fielded questions concerning boating laws on the lake. Several association members expressed concerns over the speed limit on the lakes.
Fell replied that there is not a set speed limit on the lakes, hut boats are required to travel at whatever boaters consider a reasonable and prudent speed. Boaters in slow-no wake zones should travel as slow as their motors allow while still being able to steer the watercraft.
Fell told the crowd to contact him or the Barron County Sheriffs Department if boats arc breaking any laws on the water. He added that video showing boats speeding on the lake can he used as evidence in prosecuting reckless boaters. If boating offenses are occurring regularly. callers should provide a time when Fell can most likely witness the act and apprehend the subjects.
Fell cautioned property owners on two areas that are becoming an Increasing part of the DNRs workload. Lakeshore owners are only allowed two mooring spaces per 50 feet of shoreline, and one additional mooring space for every additional 50 feet of property. With fishing boats, ski boats, jetskis, etc., many property owners have exceeded the number of moorings or slips they may have on their property and have been fined.
Some property owners are also illegally placing rip rap on their lake lots, Fell commented. Any placement of rip rap, hard armoring, or shoreline protection requires a permit.
Fell elaborated on the Indianhead Chapter of the Walleyes for Tomorrow program that began this spring in Chetek. Fell, the president of the Indianhead Chapter, helped organize a group of volunteers working to improve the wallcee population on the Chetek Chain of Lakes.
He said the group is considering habitat improvements in the Chetek chain, such as building rock bars and humps for spawning areas, or expanding current underwater rocky areas. The portable fish hatchery is committed to Prairie Lake for the next four to five years.
A motion was made and seconded for the CLPA to donate $200 to the Walleyes for Tomorrow organization.
Benike, DNR fisheries biologist, was asked if bass tournaments on the Chetek Chain damage the fishery. With only six tournaments during the summer, Benike said there was no threat to the bass fishery, considering there is a strong population of largemouths in the lakes. if the number of tournaments increases to 15-20, the department would have to closely monitor the population, Benike added.
Benike also stated that his crew will conduct a fish survey on Lake Chetek and Prairie Lake this fall. The information will be made public next spring. The last fish survey was completed on Prairie Lake and Pokegama Lake in 2001.
Treasurer Don Freeman, secretary Deb McFaul, second vice president John Swenson, and Board of Directors members Chris Carlson and Mike McGinnis were all re-elected to their respective positions during the meeting.
Last Updated: June, 2005