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Invasive Aquatic Plants

Invasive animal and plant species are a destructive pollutant in the Lower Chippewa River State Natural Area. Invasive species are species not native to a given ecosystem; like other pollutants, they do considerable harm to the ecosystem of the Lower Chippewa River Basin, including the Lower Chippewa River, floodplains, and other nearby waterways. Invasive aquatic plant species such as curly-leaf pondweed, purple loosestrife, and reed canary grass have invaded native ecosystems in the Lower Chippewa River Basin.

Studies show that invasive species like curly-leaf pondweed replace native aquatic plants, thus reducing populations of native waterfowl, like mallards. Research also shows that invasive aquatic species reduce food supplies for pan fish like bluegills. Large fish like bass also find it difficult to hunt in waters choked with invasive weeds.

At Half Moon Lake, we see an example of habitat fragmentation, one of the ways humans encourage invasive species to gain a foothold in a habitat. Habitats are fragmented when large areas are broken up by roads, development, or other anthropogenic changes. According to one study, constructing apartments, boat landings, and hospitals breaks up these habitats and creates empty spaces that invasive plants fill. Invasive aquatic species also cost us money. Economists have found that invasive aquatic species lowered property values by eight percent.  Monitoring and controlling invasive aquatic species costs the federal government $137 billion annually.

Help prevent the spread of the invasive aquatic species by cleaning your boat and discarding leftover bait in a garbage can, NOT into the waterway; discarding leftover bait in any waterway is illegal. Check out Clean Boats Clean Waters for more information about preventing the spread of invasive aquatic plants.

Next: Preventing Invasive Species

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