Community ready to fight weeds

Fearing for the survival of all of South Whidbey’s lakes, the Lone Lake Homeowners Association is doing what they can to prevent an aquarium weed in their waters from spreading further.

For homeowner and association member Pat Clark, the lake is more than his home — it’s his family history. His grandfather homesteaded the area around 1905, and the Clark family has called it home ever since.

Around 1996, Lone Lake took a turn for the worse when the invasive aquarium weed Brazilian elodea was discovered growing in the lake, Clark said. The weed is thought to have been introduced into the lake from someone dumping a household aquarium with the plant into the water, or from a boat trailer carrying the same plant.

“The Brazilian elodea is just choking and killing it,” he said Thursday.

With a $30,000 grant from the state’s Department of Ecology, which was awarded earlier this year to the county, the homeowners association was finally able to investigate the weedy condition of Lone Lake. The grant paid for a survey of the 101-acre lake by ReMetrix, a vegetation and aquatic mapping company based out of Indiana.

On Sept. 15 and 16, ReMetrix came to Whidbey Island to map Lone Lake. Clark said they crisscrossed the shallow lake every 50 feet with sonar equipment to determine the depth of the lake, it’s temperatures, the aquatic vegetation and the extent of the invasive weed’s infestation. The evaluation came in under-budget, costing about $12,000.

On Oct. 10, Clark said, a presentation from ReMetrix will share the conditions of the Brazilian elodea and their suggestions on how to manage the lake.

“We don’t have those answers yet,” he said.

Clark said there are approximately 44 waterfront owners on Lone Lake, and a total of 90 Lone Lake property owners who live in the area including Lone Lake Shores and Lone Lake Terrace. In addition to inviting property owners to the presentation, Clark said local fishing clubs and Whidbey Island triathlon organizers are also extremely concerned about the lake’s healthy future.

“We just felt we needed to educate all of the people,” Clark said.

One of Clark’s biggest concerns is the strong possibility that the invasive weed will be carried to nearby Goss Lake — less than a mile away — or Deer Lake by a boat trailer or angler’s equipment. He said for the health of all Whidbey Island lakes, residents are invited to learn about the weed to prevent spread to other lakes. In Lone Lake the weed has eliminated many of the native plants in the lake, which is about 20 feet deep.

He also said South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District received many complaints this year from participants of the Whidbey Island Triathlon, who said swimming through the weeds was worse this summer than ever before.

“There’s just fewer and fewer people using it because of the weeds,” Clark said.

He’s been told by a state biologist the lake’s status as a fly fishing trophy lake and recreational area would be threatened if the invasive weed’s continued to spread.

“I’m hoping that that would never happen here,” Clark said.

In addition to the presentation from ReMetrix on Oct. 10, Clark said the Island County Noxious Weed Coordinator will present the lake’s vegetation management plan which she is developing for the Department of Ecology. The county will prepare the implementation grant proposal for how to control the weeds — which is due by Nov. 1 — that would pay for removal of the weeds.

Clark said depending on the nature of the presentation and public support will determine what measures are taken to prevent and remove Brazilian elodea from Lone Lake, including weed-eating carp, bottom barriers or hand pulling the weeds.

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