Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Buckthorn at Long Lake by Dante Beretta

European Buckthorn Seedling.  Note the finely toothed leaf.

While exploring the woods at our Long Lake property this summer, I discovered a small patch of European Buckthorn. Also known as Common Buckthorn, the plant was introduced in Minnesota for use as a plant in hedges.

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.

Also, Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) has a quick course on identifying Buckthorn. This website presents key features of the plant and it took me less than 5 minutes to complete the course and quiz.

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
The Buckthorn ‘infestation’ on my property was about 20 seedlings, so I removed them simply weeding by hand, making sure to pull out the roots. Some medium-size plants require digging to get at the roots. For large trees or extensive Buckthorn invasion, priority is given to trees that are producing fruit to control the spread. These plants are big enough that they usually need to be cut down and then require some additional work to prevent regrowth. I have been successful in using black plastic tied over the exposed stump.

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

Our Long Lake Watershed Stewardship

Fall Newsletter Article by Sharon Natzel

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:

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: See the 9-24-2020 videos and slide presentations here:

This fun educational video from Anoka SWCD below illustrates the lake-friendly living and gardening lake-friendly concepts we learned about at our virtual LLAA Annual Meeting in June 2020. The video "Our Lakeshore Connection" shows what we can each do on our lakeshore to protect water quality:

Monday, December 7, 2020

Cold Water Safety by Jim Seifert

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.