(This content is from the Outdoors Column "Waterworks" by Gordon Prickett for the Aitkin Independent Age,9/7/2011.)
There is this image of endless sandy beaches that we take from our visits to the Gulf shores or the oceans on either coast. People arriving at Minnesota’s freshwater lakes look at the aquatic vegetation on their new shoreline and think “How can I get rid of these unsightly weeds?”
But we are not living on the shifting salt water shores of Florida, Texas, or California. The bulrushes and cattails plus other useful aquatic vegetation up here have a useful role to play. Before buying devices that rotate on the lake bottom to scape off every aquatic plant near shore, there is a lesson for us to learn from scientists who have studied the fish and wildlife that were here long before cabin people came north. The natural shores of our lakes, with their “weeds,” are where fish spawn and thrive. This is where waterfowl breed and nurture their young.
Rushes and cattails protect the shore from wave action that erodes bluffs and beaches. There is a different image here in the lake country from that of the ocean side. Small boats and canoes, kayaks and sailboats head out from docks on the shore. Shorelines with trees, shrubs, and sedges protect the habitat of many creatures, and provide a unique Minnesota beauty for photographers vacationing far from the oceans.
In short, the less you tear up from your beach, the more there will remain to enjoy on the lake. Think again about these “good weeds.”