'Stop the spread': Lake Minnetonka group fights growth of invasive species

A Lake Minnetonka group is pushing for some changes to deal with invasive species, particularly milfoil and weeds.

Lake Minnetonka Association Director Eric Evenson said that while invasive species have been issues for years, complaints from homeowners increased this summer. Now, after spending the last several months researching, the association hopes their findings will result in some changes.

Eric Evenson said that after extensive research, he and his partners believe there is a correlation between weeds increasing in certain bays and the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District’s harvesting.

The district has done its harvesting the same way for decades. However, Evenson argues, with so many boats coming to the lake from all across the state, the lake has changed. So, the old way of doing things needs to be re-examined.

“Now we have Starry Stonewort, Flowering rush, zebra muscles, we have pineweed. We have all these invasives that are coming in our lakes,” Evenson said. “Hit the pause button because right now, I think we are doing more damage than good with the harvesting program.”

The DNR issues Invasive Aquatic Plant permits to both the Conservation District for harvesting milfoil and the Lake Minnetonka Association for herbicide removal. 

“All of the local partners on the lake involved in invasive species management on the lake need to get together and focus their agenda as one because there are other invasive species in the area - such as Starry Stoneward - that are not in Lake Minnetonka that I don’t think partners on the lake are prepared for,” Evenson said.

Hoping to prepare before the milfoil and other problem plants can be seen again, Evenson believes a solid plan is needed before summer. 

“Lake Minnetonka is a major hub of activity. If we don’t do something on this lake, it’s going to spread across the state of Minnesota,” he said.

The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District discussed the issue at a meeting Wednesday night at Wayzata City Hall, voting to move forward with a plan to evaluate how they treat invasive species. 

According to Vickie Schleuning, the executive director of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, the group will likely suspend harvesting this season.