Lake James Alert!
Push on to prevent local lake invader
(Created: Thursday, February 5, 2009 8:58 AM EST)
Parrotfeather, a plant native to the Amazon River in South America, was discovered in Meserve Lake last year. Meserve Lake is on the east end of Life of Riley and north of Bellefontaine Road.
To try to keep the parrotfeather within the borders of the 16-acre water body, Aquatic Enhancement and Survey of Angola chemically treated it last year. Applications will continue this year, said Scott Banfield of Aquatic Enhancement and Survey.
“We’re going to treat it pretty aggressively and try to knock it out,” he said. The fear is that it will spread to the nearby Pigeon River, and its chain of lakes, which include Long, Bower, Hogback and Golden lakes.
Banfield will speak during Saturday’s meeting of the Steuben County Lakes Council at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 314 W. Maumee St., Angola, at 8:30 a.m.
Banfield said his work this year will include an outlet from Gooseneck Lake and streams with slow moving water emanating from Meserve Lake.
“We don’t know if we’ll be able to get rid of it completely,” said Banfield.
The plant is common in fish tanks and water gardens, and has become a non-native scourge in some places in Washington and California. It can be accidentally released or is sometimes mistakenly planted to beautify an area, said Doug Keller, aquatic invasives coordinator for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Fish and Wildlife.
“Things like parrotfeather that’s suited for a water garden … can also persist in a natural lake,” said Keller.
Parrotfeather is closely related to another introduced invader, Eurasian watermilfoil. Keller described parrotfeather as “little fir trees” poking above the water. Below the water, the leaves mimic those of Eurasian milfoil, though the structure of parrotfeather is more cumbersome. Both plants can choke out native vegetation and clog streams and lakes.
Keller asks those who believe they’ve seen the plant in a local lake or river — especially in the Pigeon Creek area — to contact him at (317) 234-3883. The best way to begin an investigation into a potential parrotfeather sighting, said Keller, is for a person to take a digital picture and e-mail it to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Banfield said it is important that local residents are aware of parrotfeather, to help combat the weed before it goes out of control.
Keller noted that parrotfeather is much more dangerous and invasive than most other tropical plants used in fish tanks and residential water effects. However, to be safe, he said when cleaning structures containing non-native plants, the plants should be thrown in a trash can or composted.
“Do not release these sort of things into the wild,” Keller said.