Saturday, August 11, 2012

Water gardening

.. or is it water weeding?

Down at the dock, just behind our sailboat Yondering, were two floating masses of milfoil almost large enough to name as independent islands.

Eurasian water milfoil has been living up to its reputation as an invasive species in Bluffers Basin.  Introduced to North America in the late 19th century, this is now one of the most widely distributed invasive aquatic plants on the continent.  The problem is that it grows so densely and rapidly, destroying habitat for native plants and making the environment less hospitable for fish.  It's also a problem for swimmers and boaters.

Unfortunately, once milfoil gets established it is next to impossible to permanently eradicate.

Our basin Federation does take some measure, using pesticides once or twice in the season. But you can't use toxics so lethal they kill everything in the environment.   It's a delicate balance.  BPYC has invested in a water rake system that tears the milfoil up at the root, but that leads to other problems:  floating masses and unwitting propagation.  The green demons are spreading!

Time for some old-fashioned weeding.

Worried that these pests would tangle with our inboard motor, we grabbed the club skiff and a couple of rakes, motored to our slip, and started pulling green masses from the water.  Enough to fill the tarp that was laid out on the boat bottom with several bushels.  Then we motored back to the mast crane, hoisted the stinky bundle in the air and unceremoniously dumped it in the growing pile of weeds on shore.

My forearms are now covered in a rash - I hope the aloe onboard takes  care of the itching.  Next time I will wear some rubber gloves.

Some areas actually hire divers to hand weed.  Hmmm, maybe this is something we can put on the duty roster....

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