Thursday, January 21, 2021
Monday, January 4, 2021
In July of 2020 Zebra Mussels were discovered in Long Lake at its South Access, located off MN Highway 87.
Several times each summer, Long Lake Area Association (LLAA) volunteers conduct visual inspections via “rake tosses” in areas with high boat traffic and high transient boat access. In addition, there are sessions each summer to train additional volunteers in how to conduct visual inspections. During one of these training sessions, Zebra Mussels were discovered near the South Access. The discovery was subsequently confirmed by Nicole Kovar, MN DNR AIS Specialist for our area, who, with a colleague, physically located additional Zebra Mussels while SCUBA diving near the South Access.
The LLAA, Hubbard County Environmental Services and the DNR then began the process of creating heightened awareness at all frequently used public accesses on Long Lake. Once a lake has an infestation of Zebra Mussels, completely eradicating the infestation is nearly impossible. Each Zebra Mussel creates millions of microscopic offspring during its lifecycle, many of which can be killed using certain poisonous chemicals, a process extremely toxic to other life in the lake. The analogy would be burning down your house to get rid of mice.
The rate of Zebra Mussel infestation can be controlled at best. Control is achieved best by not adding to the existing Zebra Mussel population through voluntary and guided AIS inspection at accesses. LLAA and its sister Long Lake Foundation are working hard to increase AIS inspector presence at accesses for the summer of 2021, but it’s expensive.
In August, DNR AIS Specialist Nicole Kovar and I conducted additional SCUBA dives to determine whether Zebra Mussels had established themselves farther out into the lake from the South Access. We were assisted by lake resident Sharon Natzel, AIS Prevention Coordinator. As Nicole and I dove for inspection, Sharon monitored our progress and checked nearby shore areas for evidence of Zebra Mussels. For experienced SCUBA divers, the term “dive” would be an overstatement. The deepest we dove was about nine feet. SCUBA diving instead of snorkeling enabled us to closely examine structure without having to repeatedly surface for a breath of air. We dove several areas northeast of the south access in stump fields and in shallow areas of sand and rocks that extend out into the lake. The good news is that we did not find any evidence of mature Zebra Mussels attached to structure in the lake. While this is great news, we know that Zebra Mussels exist in the lake.
Zebra Mussels live attached to hard surfaces and underwater structures. Zebra Mussels have no real natural predators in our MN lakes. Relative to the native mussels they compete with, the Zebra Mussels reproduce on an order of magnitude that overwhelms native mussels competing for the same food supply.
In some ways our lake’s Zebra Mussel infestation is a metaphor for the Corona Virus we have all been dealing with for the last 9 months. Zebra Mussels reach maturity in one year and have millions of offspring. Native mussels have thousands of offspring and mature in 10 years. While Zebra Mussels start slowly, their growth over several years is exponential as millions of offspring mature, have millions more who mature, and have millions more. Like our Corona Virus that was first detected in Washington State, within 9 months infected even the farthest reaches of the country.
The analogy stops there. There isn't a "vaccine" for Zebra Mussels. The University of Minnesota's AIS Research Center is conducting research on Zebra Mussels. There is a promising multi-year study on Lake Minnetonka using low-dose copper to suppress the population of Zebra Mussels in a bay that has an expected completion of Dec 2022. [https://www.maisrc.umn.edu/zebramussel-research ] We each have a personal responsibility to prevent the spread of AIS from one water body to another. We can make an appointment at the complimentary hot water decontamination station at the South Transfer Station for our boat/trailer when we plan to go to another lake and upon our return from another lake. We can educate our guests to do the same.
LLAA is focused on containing the spread of zebra mussels and faucet snails plus preventing the spread of other AIS like starry stonewort and Eurasian watermilfoil into Long Lake by increasing the AIS watercraft inspection and education at the public accesses. LLAA is working with lake service providers, tournament organizers, resorts, VRBO operators, and lake residents to CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY before putting anything in the lake.
Lake residents and users of the lake can help by DONATING to the LLAA Foundation (see article in this newsletter) to help cover the high cost of AIS inspection and by following AIS prevention guidelines. LLAA is also looking for volunteers to train to recognize AIS within the lake and/or to hang a complimentary zebra mussel settlement sampler on your dock. You do not have to be a member of the LLAA to volunteer or be trained.
Jim Seifert grew up spending every summer at his family’s home on the northeast shore of Long Lake. Now retired, Jim and his wife Jona (a Long Lake native) live on the lake in the home that has seen generations of family since 1934. Jim is the Secretary of the Long Lake Area Association and Neighborhood Six representative.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
European Buckthorn can grow to 20 feet in height. It is aggressive in growth, creating dense shade and crowding out native wildflowers and other plants from the under-story. During the Fall, the leaves stay green being one of the last plants to lose leaves. The fruit is cathartic, meaning it causes diarrhea, allowing it to spread easily by birds eating the fruit.
If feasible, it is a good idea to remove this plant from your property or at least control its spread. The first part of removal or control is to accurately identify European Buckthorn. The Minnesota DNR website is an excellent resource for the identification and management of Buckthorn. https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/buckthorn/index.html
Another way to learn to identify Buckthorn is through using a smartphone app called 'Picture This'. You take a photo that the app compares to its database. The app is accurate in its recognition of Buckthorn and other plants in the Long Lake area.
|Buckthorn with fruit. Priority is given to|
removing this phase of the plant to prevent
Another method involves cutting the bark circumstantially around the trunk. With either of these methods, the application of a small amount of herbicide such as Glyphosate herbicide to the exposed cut of the tree trunk will be more effective in preventing regrowth. As seeds may germinate up to 5 years after, it is important to recheck the area and pull new seedlings once a year. Sometimes you will need to prune new shoots off of previously cut trunks. Once Buckthorn is eradicated, the woods reestablish with native woodland wildflowers and plants in the under-story. A healthy woods offers a better habitat for wildlife.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
This spring, drone technology flown by SC-Recon Geospacial helped us understand how Sweitzer Lake is connected to Long Lake. The Spring newsletter featured the video flyover links still available for viewing: LLAA Spring Newsletter PDF
In August, a large poster by Innovative Graffix (from the drone flights) was added to the kiosks to help educate us about the northern portion of our Long Lake Minor Watershed. [Readers can enlarge the photo of the poster below to read the small print.] We can see that from this drone flight perspective how protecting land in the Long Lake Watershed helps benefit our Long Lake water quality. The surface water outlet at Sweitzer Lake is a perennial stream for two-thirds of its distance south to Mud Lake. The wetlands between the lakes help filter the waters. Mud Lake is then connected by a culvert which goes under Highway 34 to Long Lake near the North public access of Long Lake.
|Poster by Innovative Graffix|
C.C. White’s message on page one of the newsletter is an illustration of how watershed landowners can permanently keep their property pristine, thereby benefiting the whole lake and its surroundings. MN Land Trust: www.mnland.org
The process of protecting land in a watershed starts with an individual, just like Delpha Hays White, CC’s Grandmother. At the recent Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations (HC COLA) virtual meeting 9-24-2020, the Kabekona Lake Association and their partners spoke about how they have been successful at preserving 4 areas in their lake watershed that help protect water quality. Their partners included the DNR, Northern Waters Land Trust, and Minnesota Land Trust. Peter Jacobson, part time Water Quality Resource, Research, and Easement Specialist at the Hubbard County SWCD also spoke about how he is excited to help protect our area lakes and their water quality. He retired as a MN DNR Fisheries Research Biologist for 32 years. Peter would be a great contact if you have questions about preserving land: firstname.lastname@example.org. See the 9-24-2020 videos and slide presentations here: http://www.hubbardcolamn.org/presentations.html
Monday, December 7, 2020
This past spring's newsletter included Jim Seifert’s extensive and helpfully detailed advice concerning warm weather water safety. The following is his advice concerning cold weather water safety.
Spring and Fall are especially dangerous times to be on the water. Falling into the lake before the water has warmed up is an immediately life-threatening emergency. If you plan to be on the water in the spring and fall you need to plan as though you are somehow going to end up the water.
PFDs: WEAR (not just have on board) a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) at all times. If you go into the water, you need to have the buoyancy a PFD provides in order to survive long enough for you to self-rescue or for rescue to arrive. PFDs are also necessary if you are working on your dock or in the water, especially if you are wearing waders. If you flood them, lie on your back to allow the small bit of air trapped in the feet to float your legs to the surface and back-paddle to shore.
Lifeline: Take a lesson from open water sailors. If you are “on deck” in cold or inclement weather or water conditions, wear a Lifeline clipped to your PFD and have a plan for how you are going to get back into the boat if you fall out, even a fishing boat. This may mean that you have a ladder or a rope ladder attached and ready. If you have a power boat or PWC (Personal Watercraft) make sure your engine kill switch line is also attached to your PFD. Is this inconvenient? Yes. But only until it saves your life.
Rescue plan: Have a rescue plan in place in case your boat becomes disabled or you are stranded on or in the water.
Water Buddy: The buddy system (socially distanced of course) is highly recommended for cold water boating.
Have a friend or relative accompany you to help in case someone falls in. If necessary, have someone follow you in their boat. Having two boats reduces the likelihood that you are stranded on a disabled boat.
Onshore Buddy: Whenever you are on the water, someone needs to know where you are expecting to go, where you launched from and when you expect to be off the water. In cold water season, you should even text or check in with your onshore buddy a couple of times while you are on the water and when you get off the water. Time is critical in cold water emergencies; you won’t have hours to wait for rescue if you are in the water. Hypothermia sets in quickly. The gold standard is a plan you and your onshore buddy can execute if you need water rescue or don’t check in. Here in Hubbard County we have excellent emergency services capabilities, but County borne water rescue can take time that you may not have. If you know of someone on the lake that also has their boat ready for launch, ask them if they don’t mind being on your emergency call list.
This URL links to a video ”The DNR and Minnesota Wild Ice Safety PSA” that notes further danger when cold water becomes ice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_GhkgReVFU