For cutting and removal of shoreline plants contact DNR’s Chuck Fitzgibbon OSHKOSH Wis. -- Many residents on Lake Winnebago are expressing concern about rooted and uprooted aquatic plants clogging shorelines and making boat access to deeper water difficult. “The worst problem seems to be on the south end of the lake,” reports DNR biologist, Mark Sesing, “and a few weeks ago we learned that there were drifting plant problems in the Neenah area, on the lock gates of the Neenah and Menasha dams, and for utilities and industrial water users in the Appleton area.” “Typically the lake is full of algae which blocks the sunlight that rooted aquatic plants need to grow,” says Rob McLennan, DNR basin supervisor. “Lake Winnebago has been unusually clear this year and more sunlight has produced a bumper crop of aquatic plants.” The clearer water is probably a combination of a relatively gentle spring runoff year, improving agricultural and municipal runoff management, zebra mussels and zooplankton grazing on algae. Many of the plants have zebra mussels on them.” Zebra mussels filter the water and may have some impact on water clarity. The relatively cloudy June is probably also part of the picture, and algae blooms later in the summer are likely. “Aquatic plants will become more abundant over time as we continue to make strides improving water quality,” said McLennan. “Creating an organization like a lakes commission is worth considering to deal with this and other issues that are bigger than any one agency or local government can address. Unfortunately there is no Winnebago system-wide organization or agency charged with aquatic plant management. DNR fisheries supervisor Ron Bruch provided some background. “We developed long term goals 20 years ago with the public around Lake Winnebago calling for the re-establishment of near-shore vegetation for fisheries habitat. Although the current increased vegetation in the lake can be a nuisance to some lakefront property owners, it is also key to the booming panfish and game fish fisheries we are currently experiencing in the Winnebago Pool Lakes." The DNR wants people to know that it is OK to remove dislodged plants that accumulate along the shoreline. Rooted plants can also be cut and removed along 30 continuous feet of a property owner’s shoreline without a permit, if it aids access to piers, boatlifts and swim rafts in the zone. There is no distance-from-shore restriction on manual removal of aquatic plants within the 30 foot wide zone measured along the shoreline. Note that this zone must be a single area, and include any piers or other existing structures that abut the shoreline. Landowners should consult with the DNR before harvesting larger areas or using aquatic herbicides. Questions regarding harvesting or aquatic herbicides should be directed to Chuck Fitzgibbon, DNR Oshkosh, 920-424-3061.