UPDATE ON STARRY STONEWORT AND OKAUCHEE LAKE – 9-20-19

As those of you who went to the August 26, 2019 Okauchee Lake Management District Annual Meeting know, Starry Stonewort, an aggressive aquatic invasive species plant, has been identified in two small areas on the lake: near the bridge between the channel and Little Okauchee, and near the Golden Mast in the channel. At the Annual Meeting, Commissioners informed residents that aggressive action would be taken to eradicate Starry Stonewort and to keep it from spreading. If this invasive species is allowed to spread, it will aggressively out-compete other aquatic plants in Okauchee Lake and potentially choke off navigation lanes, particularly in shallow areas.
OLMD Commissioners have worked with Kathy Aron, a marine biologist at Aron & Associates, and Brian Suffern, of Marine Biochemists, the organization that chemically treated Okauchee Lake and many of the lakes in this area for decades, to identify and propose treatment options to the DNR. The first option was to treat the Starry Stonewort aggressively in the very small areas in which its been found. This first option included the use of chemicals not currently within the existing OLMD permit that are believed to have little or no effect on native plant life, but have been shown to be effective on the treatment of Starry Stonewort. The DNR lake biologist assigned to Okauchee Lake confirmed the populations of Starry Stonewort, concluded that chemical treatment on other lakes was not effective and further, suggested that the proposed chemical option might stress certain native species. Despite the DNR’s lake biologist admitting that it did not kill those other native species, the application for chemical treatment was denied.
OLMD consultant, Kathy Aron suggested that allowing the Starry Stonewort to continue, without treatment, would not result in it being outcompeted by other plant species as suggested by the DNR, based on her own experience with Starry Stonewort on Wind Lake. Further, since she was well acquainted with the treatment on Wind Lake, which the DNR said was ineffective, she recognized that the DNR that had delayed treatment from one year to the next, allowing Starry Stonewort to spread, and apparently the DNR has not recognized that had Wind Lake been able to use chemical treatment to control Starry Stonewort in two navigational channels, just as the OLMD wants to do, the results would be far better.
OLMD Commissioner Dennis Johnson, in charge of the OLMD Aquatic Plant Management Plan, has appealed this decision to deny use of chemical treatment for Starry Stonewort and has asked the DNR for reconsideration. In the meantime, the OLMD is attempting to reach out to Legislators and others to see if there is a more aggressive and promising solution than the “wait and see” attitude adopted by the DNR.