Controversy and excitement abound when considering some of the plants and animals that call our lakes and the watershed their homes.
Animals that get most of the attention are beaver, geese, and turtles. Anglers appreciate the fish in our lakes. See the specific pages to learn more. Many other animals are around our lakes, from dragonflies and damsel flies to fishers and deer. Learn more about the critters that share our lakes with us to better appreciate our mutual habitat.
Aquatic plants likewise can arouse emotions – we call them weeds and generally wish for fewer of them in our lakes. Fishermen may be an exception, since they realize that plants give fish a place to survive. The presence of plants are important to our lakes. Plants provide habitat for fish and other young animals. Aquatic plants also use some of the nutrients that would otherwise be available for algae growth. Rooted plants can stabilize sediment that would otherwise make our lakes muddy. Refer to our plant surveys for information and maps showing the distribution of plants in our lakes. Although some native plants can reach nuisance densities, the ones that arouse the most ire are invasive plants with their aggressive growth. These invasive plants may have been transported to our lakes by people via boats, trailers or fishing gear. See how to clean your boat for information on how to ensure you don’t transport more invasives to our lakes.
In addition to not transporting invasives from one lake to another, make sure that you don’t transplant them by other means. Don’t dump aquariums or their unwanted occupants into the lakes. Plants, fish, crabs, snails, and other organisms that are in fish tanks are generally non-native and can cause environmental disruption. Dispose of unwanted aquarium material in the trash, not in the lakes.
Keep water gardens and fish ponds native. It’s very hard to keep small ponds from overflowing during some of our downpours, and the water can carry non-native plants and animals into other waterbodies. If you only use native plants and animals, any overflows won’t add additional threats to the ecology of our lakes.
Never dump bait. Some baitfish and crayfish are invasive and can disrupt habitat or carry disease. Alewives and white perch are invasives that were probably introduced into our lakes as bait releases.
Our lakes contain many invasives, including Eurasian watermilfoil, brittle naiad, and curly leafed pondweed. We have found and removed Brazilian elodea and water chestnut. Nearby lakes and rivers contain other invasives that we want to avoid: zebra and quagga mussels, mystery snails, and hydrilla.
Algae is the basis of our food web and essential for producing oxygen on earth. However, algal blooms in lakes are unsightly. Recently, we’ve become aware that algae frequently can have a greater impact than aesthetics. Some types of algae, called blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, can sometimes produce toxins that can be harmful to people and pets. See the harmful algal bloom (HAB) page for more information.