Weed Management Options
There are a number of options that might be used for Weed Management. For a variety of reasons the WLA has used the last choice, herbicide application, for most management in Webster Lake. Various methods are discussed below.
- Do Nothing
- The trouble with doing nothing is that it can lead to widespread and dense infestation of invasive weeds with effects on habitats, other species, and recreational uses. While some may feel that "doing nothing" is "natural", this overlooks the fact that the environment has changed greatly, including the introduction of non-native species.
- Mechanical Weed Raking (Hydroraking)
- The WLA has a license from the Conservation Commission for mechanical weed raking. The WLA has, at times, provided access to mechanical weed raking for small areas for swimming or boating purposes. Homeowners must pay for management of their own areas. Unfortunately, this cannot be done in areas where there are invasive species because these species spread through fragmentation. Mechanical weed raking is not offered every year.
- Mechanical Weed Raking with Containment
- It is possible to use mechanical weed raking even in the presence of invasive weeds if containment systems are used to insure that fragmented weeds do not spread. In most cases, this procedure would be prohibitively expensive for individual homeowners.
- Removing by Hand
- For small areas where the weed density is not great, invasive weeds could be removed by hand. This is not an easy task since the entire plant, including roots, must be removed. Also care must be taken to collect all the parts of removed plants so that they do not spread through fragmentation. This method, too, would be suitable for small areas, but prohibitively expensive for large areas. This method has been recommended by ACT for areas which are too small for treatment with a herbicide to be cost effective.
- Bottom Barrier Panels
- A barrier, generally a plastic sheet on a frame, can be placed on the bottom of individual swimming or boat docking areas. This can be an effective means of weed control, but again is quite expensive and not practical for treatment of large areas of the lake. This method has also been recommended by ACT for areas which are too small for treatment with a herbicide to be cost effective.
- In some lakes, the water level can be substantially reduced, killing weeds by exposing them to the air. While this may work in some lakes, it is not a possibility in Webster Lake because of the relatively small watershed. Thus, if the lake level is reduced, it would be very difficult for it to recover and might be low for extended periods. Furthermore, there is the chance that the wells of some homes around the lake might run dry with a substantial drawdown. See the article by Ernie Benoit in the Fall 2013 WLA Newsletter for a longer discussion of this method.
- Herbicides are used to attack invasive weeds. They may attack native plants as well, but these effects can be reduced by carefully selecting when and where the chemicals are applied. By keeping ahead of the invasive weeds, we hope to maintain an environment where native plants and animals can thrive.