Please be aware that Starry Stonewort treatment has begun at the Golden Mast site! Hooray! Please note the location of the treatment area near the Golden Mast on the map on the “Reports” page and avoid this area until the barrier curtain is removed possibly sometime next week. The picture shown on the “Reports” page clearly indicates the areas where Starry Stonewort was found in 2019. Please be aware that the 2020 chemical treatment area might be a bit smaller due to sampling and the DNR’s subsequent decision on where to treat. The picture also shows a stand of Starry Stonewort located near the bridge. This area is being left untreated at this time at the direction of the DNR. The Army Corp of Engineers has been working with the DNR and the OLMD to determine the correct “chemical cocktail” that will treat the Starry Stonewort stands in Okauchee Lake. The DNR has directed that the stand near the bridge will remain as a “control” area to determine impacts from the treatment in the area near the Golden Mast. More information will be available in upcoming weeks and months about the results of the treatment. As with many things this year, please remain positive and hope for a great outcome!
The Okauchee Lake Management District has continued to work hard at controlling the outbreak of Starry Stonewort which was discovered in the lake late last summer. You can see updates on our efforts at the Okauchee Lake Management District website: www.olmd.org. The website contains detailed reports on Starry Stonewort, its impact on lakes, and how it spreads.
It was with that in mind that last fall we encouraged the DNR to allow us to take aggressive and immediate action to control Starry Stonewort, especially because the largest patch, perhaps 4,000 square feet, is located near the marina and launch area of the Golden Mast and the channel. After that effort was denied, we continued meeting with the DNR, and have agreed to use a method of contained chemical application supplemented at the end with diver assisted hand pulling of remaining plant life. However, as was described at the last OLMD meeting held on June 8, 2020, the DNR has insisted that we wait until the Starry Stonewort growth is approximately two feet from the surface before beginning chemical application. The OLMD vehemently disagreed with this approach. Based on advice from marine biologists and those in aquatic invasive species control, we wish to begin treatment now and have made arrangements for all contractors to be available. At this point, the plant is in a growth stage, and it is approximately two feet from the lake bottom. Our aquatic invasive species control consultants believe now is the most effective time to treat the Starry Stonewort, while the chemicals can penetrate through the full plant and before the plant gets high enough that it would be potentially wrapped/chopped in passing propellers and spread, either throughout the lake, or brought up onto the boat and left to be transported to other lakes. The DNR has not relented on its plan to force us to wait until the growth is just two feet from the water surface. The OLMD Commissioners will continue to reach out to the DNR and to our elected officials to see if relief from this decision is possible.
Some have asked what they can do! This is great! You can try to contact your legislator. Okauchee Lake is divided into two Senate and two Assembly districts, and the Senators are Scott Fitzgerald and Chris Kapenga, and Representatives are Cindi Duchow and Barbara Dittrich.
The message we wish to share is that Starry Stonewort is a threat not only to Okauchee Lake, its 1000 homeowners and wonderful hospitality businesses, but also to its downstream neighbors, Oconomowoc Lake, Fowler Lake, and Lac La Belle, and should be treated now! We cannot afford to wait until the plant has grown to a place where it is much more likely to be chopped up and spread by incoming and outgoing boats near the launch site of the Golden Mast. We believe the cost of traditional chemical application is reasonable and it will have negligible, if any, impact upon the native aquatic plant population of Okauchee Lake. While no technique has proven to be wholly effective, this chemical treatment technique is supported by marine biologists, past studies in Indiana, and companies involved in plant management throughout the state, including our OLMD consultants who are exceptionally knowledgeable about our stewardship of this lake. We seek DNR authorization to immediately begin chemical treatment according to the plan that has been identified.
You can contact any of your elected representatives as follows:
Chris Kapenga – Sen.Kapenga@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-9174; (800) 863-8883
Scott Fitzgerald – Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-5660
Cindi Duchow – Rep.Duchow@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-3007; (888) 534-0099
Barbara Dittrich – Rep.Dittrich@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-8551; (888) 534-0038
You can also contact DNR Staff regarding this matter as follows:
• Heidi Bunk – Southeastern Lakes Region
• Madison Johansen – Aquatic Plant Management, Water Quality Bureau
Thank you for your ongoing support to safely maintain the beauty and health of Okauchee Lake and the entire Oconomowoc River basin!
Starry Stonewort was found in Okauchee Lake in August, 2019. Since then the OLMD Board has been working to treat the areas near the bridge by Foolery’s and the near the boat launch at the Golden Mast. Please see the article titled “Starry Stonewort – What You Need To Know” on the “Reports” page to find out details about the treatment of these areas.
It is the OLMD policy regarding collection of aquatic plants from landowners that all plants for pick up MUST be placed on the end of the pier. This placement facilitates pick up, avoids damage to the hull of the barge on shoreline obstructions (i.e., rocks) and keeps employees safe while transferring plant material to the barge. In the event plants must be on the shoreline, they must be in one pile in a location allowing the employees to easily transfer the plants directly to the barge. Please note that adequate space is required between piers, boat-lifts, etc. to safely maneuver the barge to the pick-up point (20 feet minimum). If, in the opinion of the Lake Operations Supervisor (and after discussion with the riparian owner), these conditions are not met, the Commission’s policy is to refuse pick up of plant material until the above conditions have been met.
Plants will be picked up Monday through Friday (weather permitting). Please check the OLMD website home page (www.olmd.org) frequently to review the updated cutting schedule. OLMD strongly prefers plant piles directly on piers. In the event that a bin or receptacle is used, please drill drain holes in the bottom. Plants must be free of any trash, such as cans, tree limbs, leaves, etc., because the farmers who receive the plant material will not accept anything except plants. Thank you for your cooperation in meeting these requirements. If you have any questions, please call 262-966-0286.
Arnold Groehler, Animal Damage Control Trapper, started trapping at the beginning of April and will continue into mid-May. Should you see muskrat activity along your shoreline and want them removed, contact Arnold Groehler directly (262-490-9363 firstname.lastname@example.org). Any OLMD residents with an active muskrat burrow should place a flag near the burrow on their property so he can easily identify the burrows as he navigates the lake. If permission was granted for past Muskrat Control programs, a new permission form IS NOT required. If you are new to the program, forms granting permission to access your shoreline can be found on the “Forms” page of this website. Thank you!
Recently a boat washed up on shore near the OLMD Weed Cutting facility. If you think this boat might belong to you, please call the OLMD office at 262-966-0286 and ask for Gary. Please be prepared to provide description.
At this time, the lake weeds have entered the dormant stage. The OLMD Board is continuing to work with the DNR to allow aggressive chemical treatment of Starry Stonewort and other lake weeds in the spring of 2020.
On September 27, 2019, the Okauchee Lake Management District application for chemical treatment of the aquatic invasive species, Starry Stonewort, found in two defined areas on the lake, was denied by DNR Senior Water Resources Management Specialist, Heidi Bunk. The letter of denial offered two substantive reasons for its position:
1. The Starry Stonewort populations at the bridge near Foolery’s and near the launch at the
Golden Mast are not currently presenting material obstruction to navigation.
2. The treatment proposed by OLMD was claimed not to have been shown effective to control
The Okauchee Lake Management Commission has asked for reconsideration of this decision. This is based on advice from our experts that the treatment proposed by OLMD, a combination of Cutrine Ultra-Hydrothol 191 has, indeed, been shown to be effective both locally and in studies conducted elsewhere. (Continued on the “Reports” page.)
Please continue to the “Reports” page and locate “Starry Stonewort Update – 10-10-19” to view the entire post and access links. Thank you!
Wondered what Starry Stonewort actually looks like and how to tell it from other native plants? Please visit the “Reports” page for picture identification and frequently asked questions regarding Starry Stonewort.
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.