Archive for June, 2011

Amery Flowage Committee Completes Work

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Five meetings with local residents and affected organizations under the leadership of Lakes Consultant Cheryl Clemens beginning in February of 2011 has produced the first ever Aquatic Plant Management Plan (APMP) for the Apple River Preservation and Rehabilitation District (P and R District).

The P and R District is a legally constituted taxing authority for property owners along the Apple River in and north of Amery.  Their charter, like many lake districts, is to preserve and rehabilitate– basically to effectively manage– their water resource.

For the last five years, the P and R Disctict has been in technical violation of Wisconsin State Law in that they were managing aquatic plants — through chemical herbicide applications — without a state-approved plan.  So, the work of the committee has brought the P and R District into compliance with State Law as well as elucidated the issues surrounding reduction of excess plant growth in the Amery Flowage.

The long and the short of it is this:  Aquatic plants provide essential natural services in the Flowage, from stabilizing bottom sediments, to preventing bank erosion, to providing habitat for birds, fish and frogs.  Without aquatic plants, the Flowage would become oligotrophic, unable to support either plants or animals — basically a dead water body.

The first thing the committee agreed upon is that maintaining high water quality and natural habitat is the number one goal of Flowage residents.  As a result, chemical applications should be minimized, if not eliminated, since they are known to produce a variety of negative impacts for water, plants and animals.

In their place, under the leadership of new P and R Board President Roland Peterson, the P and R District has chosen to pursue mechanical harvesting as their main form of navigation channel management.  This has the benefit of not only keeping harmful chemicals out of the watershed, but it removes nutrients, like phosphorus, which are the real culprits behind excessive plant growth.

Over time, using a mechanical harvester strategically and repeatedly to take down plants like curly leaf pond weed (CLP), it is hoped undesirable plant communities will be reduced, Flowage water quality and habitat improved, and channels and access corridors maintained for navigation.

All of this is dependent upon quality administration being provided by the P and R District, as well as support from Polk County and WDNR water specialists.  For instance, the timing and location of intensive harvesting is crucial to the reduction of CLP, which is an exotic invasive.   To achieve this, the harvester operator needs modern GPS equipment along with exquisite timing derived from insight of the reproductive cycle of CLP.

It is this level of focus and management expertise that will allow the P and R District to finally get CLP and other aquatic plants under control.  Previous harvesting operations were too sporadic, random and untargeted to have much effect on undesirable plant communities.  And, as the report clearly shows, spraying herbicides in moving waters like the Amery Flowage has never, and will never, effectively reduce plant growth or excessive nutrients upon which they depend.

The Apple River Association has pledged $5,000.00 toward the purchase of a harvester upon WDNR acceptance of a non-chemical based APMP, as well as ongoing logistical and labor support to achieve P and R plan goals.

The ARA Board hopes that P and R leadership, harvesting equipment and professional plan development will initiate a new era in Flowage management as well as a level of cooperation between the P and R District and the larger ARA community.

But first, the APMP must pass public muster.  The Plan is available for public review and comment.  To obtain a copy, or to get one downloaded, click to the Amery P and R District website:   http://arprd.org/ .

For now, a hearty thanks and congratulations for all Flowage residents and other professionals who contributed to APMP development.  Well done!

Here is a PDF of the Summary Final Plan.

ARPRD APM Summary d2