ALSFX Spring 2009 Newsletter

Eurasian Water-Milfoil

Have you ever heard of water milfoil, a Eurasian invader plant that has already come to some of our Laurentians lakes, not to be taken for other similar local species?

A report from the “Committee on water milfoil” of the Regrouping of Associations of the Lakes of Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré Inc, the RAL, gives a concise description of the invader: “The water milfoil is an immersed plant with ramified stems, with numerous leaves divided into fine thin straps. Flowers, small, rosy or yellow, blossom at the surface of water. This plant has leaves which count beyond 12 pairs of leaflets, giving it the aspect of a feather. One finds it between 15 centimetres and 5 meters of depth.” (Translated from French quotation)

This harmful species would have been introduced in North America at the end of the 19th century, coming from Eurasia. In Canada, it has infested the Rideau River and its Canal in particular. In this last, one uses a floating mechanical reaping-machine as impressive as our “frog for river iceblocks”, to harvest it! And that is without ever hoping to be able to eradicate the plant.

The committee on water milfoil of the RAL pointed out its presence, in 2004, in several surrounding lakes of the area, «that is to say Lake Carré, Lake Supérieur, Lake Duhamel, Lake Maskinongé and Lake Ouimet”.

The Association des propriétaires et amis du lac Connelly (APALC), near Saint-Hyppolyte, has monopolized the residents there as of year 2000 for a large operation of pulling out. The field work has first required a great hype and a collective involvement. This plant, such octopus, can get tangled in the propellers of the boat motors which will produce multiple cuttings of it or, more simply, thwart your swimming projects and give a bad look to your lake. The bordering properties of the seriously infested lakes could see their evaluation dropping. The spectrum of its development now seemed to be able to lead the citizens in action. Even the ducks, the loons or any other bird visiting our lakes may potentially contribute to the dissemination of the water milfoil.

The FAPEL however affirmed that if one could not win the war against the species, as it is the case for good of others, one did not have to panic for such. One would have even noted a certain levelling off of the development of the plant turned to his apogee of invasion in certain lakes. Even if the plant subjugates the local species and replaces them, one would not need to diabolise its impact like one often does it in similar cases. It recalled at the same time that man bad environmental living habits near our lakes and rivers are giving help to the intruder after it has landed, as is the case for blue algae or others.

I am not a permanent or old resident of our area and I haven’t heard any mention of an invasion of this plant around. Lake St.François-Xavier seems to be still free of it. However, has this invader already make its breakthrough elsewhere in Wentworth-North? Will we have to form a committee on water milfoil as with the RAL? Will it be necessary to replace our prototype of the disc of Secchi by that of the rake with telescopic handle licensed by the residents of the lake Connelly for hunting for the milfoil from their bridge or on board their boats? Will we have, perhaps, to think of… installing a quarantine station for our loon, our mergansers, our mallards?

Will this threat be able to make fade that of the blue algae which has traumatized all the residents of the province in 2007? Had this last crisis, on the contrary, eclipsed the first one?

Carl Chapdelaine ALSFX

Translation by Edna Schell?