Charron guest editorial 8-26-23

By Steve Charron

On Dec. 11, 2008, then-Governor Mike Rounds released a 70-page document, concerning South Dakota’s future battle with Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). It was titled “The Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan.” The plan was released to all state government and warned of the dangers of plants and animals that were closing in on us. The plan can easily be found on the internet.  

Fast forward to 2023.

Our lakes and streams are being attacked by weeds and animals. In the last month, 20 of us took a class on AIS through the University of Minnesota in cooperation with SDSU. We had both online and on-site classes. The class was set up by the South Dakota Lakes and Streams Association, of which I am a board member.

As zebra mussels are moved from lake to lake it has opened the opportunity for invasive weeds. We learned that certain weeds can choke a body of water to the point that water craft can’t navigate. Shallow lakes can be completely taken over.

The zebra mussels clean the water, sometimes crystal clear, and an adult mussel can clean a liter of water a day.

Unfortunately when the water becomes clear the sun can penetrate the water and hit the bottom of the lake or river and weeds flourish.

A cabin owner on a popular S.D. lake brought pictures of his lake and dock. He has to rake the weeds once a week in order to launch his jet ski. The lake is three years into zebra mussels.

What can you and I do?

If you see a strange set of weeds in your favorite lake or river take a picture of the plant and mark the location.

Since it is illegal in S.D. to transport AIS, get the picture to your local Game, Fish and Parks officer for identification. Public boat docks are the best place to look. Plants often come in on trailers and fall into the water when the boat launches.

Unlike zebra mussels early detection can result with the opportunity to eradicate.  

Our lakes and streams need our help more then ever.

Steve Charron lives in Huron. He is an avid outdoors enthusiast.