SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (KCAU) — An invasive plant has been confirmed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be growing in some Siouxland lakes. 

According to a release from the DNR, the invasive plant is called Eurasian watermilfoil is growing in East Okoboji Lake, Upper Gar Lake, Lake Minnewashta, and Lower Gar Lake in Dickinson County.  

The Aquatic Plant Management team has been monitoring 153 sites at the Iowa Great Lakes, visiting twice a year to detect invasive plants. They strive to detect the invasive plants in early stages so they can quickly create management plans to control the plants.  

The release specified that when surveys were conducted, they did not detect Eurasian watermilfoil in Spirit Lake, Center Lake, and West Okoboji.  

“We are aggressively developing a management plan to immediately treat areas of the lakes where the plant has been detected with an aquatic herbicide approved for use on lakes and drinking water sources,” said Fisheries Biologist Mike Hawkins with the Iowa DNR, “These aquatic herbicides have very few label restrictions. Contact with the water after treatment is safe for fishing or other recreational activities.”  

The release described Eurasian watermilfoil as a rooted aquatic plant that reproduces by fragmentation, so small pieces of it grow into new plants forming a thick bed. The plant is a native of Europe and Asia.  

The Eurasian Watermilfoil is the second invasive plant that the DNR will have to work closely to treat, as they have already been closely treating curly-leaf pondweed each year in East Okoboji Lake, Lake Minnewashta, and Lower Gar Lake. The release specified that the Iowa Aquatic Invasive Species Program is among national leaders in control efforts to stop Eurasian watermilfoil for 30 years.  

“Iowa DNR has successfully eradicated the plant in many lakes throughout the state. However, the size and complexity of the Iowa Great Lakes will present real challenges for management,” said Hawkins, “Lakes with healthy, diverse native aquatic plant communities may be less susceptible to an infestation that takes over the native plant community.”  

The release provided guidelines for boaters to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species listed below 

  • Ensure plants and animals are clean and mud is cleaned off the boat and equipment before leaving water bodies.  
  • Drain all water from equipment such as the motor, live well, bilge, transom well, and bait bucket before leaving.  
  • Dry anything that comes with water including boats, trailers, equipment, boots, clothing and dogs. Also, use high-pressure hot water to spray your boat or let your boat and equipment dry for at least 5 days.  
  • Any unused bait should be emptied into the trash, and do not release plants, fish, or animals into a water body unless they came out of that water body.  

“Boaters and anglers can unintentionally spread Eurasian watermilfoil and other aquatic invasive species if they do not take the proper precautions,” said DNR’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator Kim Bogenschutz, “Clean, drain, dry – after each time out on the water.”  

The release specified that it is illegal to possess or move aquatic invasive species in Iowa. Boaters are also legally obligated to drain all water from boats and equipment before leaving a water body and drain plugs must be removed or opened during transport.  

Additional information about aquatic invasive species on the DNR’s website.