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Asian fish to join fight against invasive weeds

The Lone Lake Homeowners Association is hoping to go into the fish business.

They won’t be pulling out the 2-pound bass or the rainbow trout that inhabit their tiny lake, but they will be hawking carp to throw back in.

The carp are part of the plan to save the 102-acre lake from becoming a bog.

For about $10 to $20 apiece, people interested in saving Lone Lake from total infestation of Brazilian elodea may make a donation to buy sterile (triploid) grass carp to add to the lake.

The introduction of carp to the lake, planned for sometime in 2006, will be the final step in an effort to get the invasive weed under control.

The grass carp is a vegetarian fish native to the Amur River in Asia. Because the fish feeds on aquatic plants, it is used as a biological tool to control nuisance plants such as Brazilian elodea.

Currently, the weed infestation in the waters is too far along for just carp to handle.

The homeowners association began seriously fighting the invasive weed several years ago. With a $30,000 grant from Island County and the Department of Ecology, the group hired an outside firm to treat the sparkling waters with the herbicide fluridone.

The lake was treated with pellets containing the aquatic herbicide four times this spring. The final treatment was on June 30.

The herbicide will “work” on the weeds for the next several months, then the association will begin working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to improve the lake’s outlet, a requirement for stocking the grass carp.

“This is only the beginning,” said Pat Clark, president of the homeowners association.

“We will have to form a stewardship program for the lake to manage the lake for future generations. Our hope is to totally eradicate the weed, but that might not be possible,” Clark said.

“Realistically we do not have enough people (in our association) to fund the carp program, so we have to ask for outside help,” Clark said.

Because there are only 45 homeowners around the lake, they cannot finance the efforts alone.

Continued stewardship will take money, too.

A combination of herbicides and weed-eating carp - with the possible use of bottom barriers - will be used to reduce the amount of weeds near public and private docks and private property.

According to the state Department of Health, fluridone is used to control common nuisance plants like watermilfoil and Brazilian eoldea. It destroys the weeds when it is absorbed by the leaves and roots of the plant. It is not harmful to humans or animals.

The presence of Brazilian elodea in Lone Lake was discovered sometime around 1996.

The weed was likely introduced into the lake by someone dumping household aquarium water into the lake. It may also have fallen from a boat trailer carrying the same plant. The aquarium plant is now banned in the United States.

People interested in helping with the clean-up effort can send tax-deductible contributions to “Save Lone Lake” at PO Box 1041, Langley, WA 98260.

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