If you've spent any length of time at your favorite Minnesota lake, chances are you're no stranger to aquatic plants. Maybe you've cast into lily pads looking for bass, watched minnows dart to safety in plant beds, pulled in an anchor covered with green vegetation, or waded through a few plants while swimming.
Unfortunately, most people see aquatic plants as problems. They perceive lakes or lakeshores with lots of so-called "weeds" as messy and in need of cleaning. But what a cabin owner sees as a weedy mess is an essential part of a lake's or river's ecosystem. Without aquatic plants, lakes would have fewer aquatic insects, minnows, and other wildlife. If too many aquatic plants are removed from lakeshores, fish and wildlife populations and water clarity may suffer. Aquatic plants are an essential part of the natural community in most lakes.
Minnesota is home to about 150 species of aquatic plants, most of which are native species. When native plants interfere with boating or swimming some control may be desired. But what most native aquatic plants need is protection, not elimination, so they can continue to function as part of healthy aquatic ecosystems.
Some aquatic plants in Minnesota are not native and they may cause problems. Control of these species may be done to reduce interference with boating or swimming, to reduce the risk of spread of invasive species to un-infested water-bodies, or in some situations to attempt to produce ecological benefits such as increases in native plants. Learn more about permits to manage aquatic invasive plants.
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