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Pelican Watershed targets lake rush

The Pelican River Watershed District and the City of Detroit Lakes are "always actively doing something" about the flowering rush problem on Detroit Lake, PRWD Administrator Tera Guetter said.

Not only are they working on treatment options, PRWD is holding a public meeting Thursday, March 4, asking for input on the increasing problem.

The PRWD is still looking at treatment options and isn't positive what they will be, but is getting closer.

"It was a brainstorming session on what to do," Guetter said of a January meeting in St. Paul. She learned they "need to attack it in submergent form -- that's key."

The research summit featured some of the top names in aquatic research -- experts from Mississippi, Montana, Minnesota and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The problem is there isn't a tried and true answer to treatment because flowering rush is a fairly new problem.

"We're on the absolute cusp of this. There is no information out there for this," Guetter said.

And although treating the beach is important, it's really a matter of treating the entire lake.

"When we spend our money, we want to make the best of it," she said. "The city council is very concerned about the appearance of the city beach, as we all are... This is not a one-year treatment. This is ongoing."

Funding for the flowering rush treatment project doesn't come from the state either, it's local.

"We can't rely on anyone else at this point," she said. "This is not a simple task here."

The DNR has been making some rule changes that will help the PRWD in its fight. Last year the PRWD had to send cards signed by every lake resident -- 800 of them within 150 feet of flowering rush infestations -- on Detroit Lake to treat flowering rush. The DNR is looking at an alternative permitting process that will "help us with reducing the burden," Guetter said.

Another change is that there will be a time for a general permit where everyone can sign up and not have to get individual permits for hand harvesting the rush in front of their own homes.

If they miss this window of time, they will have to pay $90 and get their own permit.

At the upcoming public meeting Thursday, Guetter said the PRWD is asking the public and lake associations "what they're thinking, what they've liked, what they haven't, what they know."

"We're hoping to tie all the resources together," Detroit Lakes Public Work Director Brad Green said. "It's a strong partnership (with the PRWD, city and DNR) and we want to expand more."

The meeting is March 4 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Detroit Lakes City Hall. It will include information on a 10-year plan, research, information on district and lake-specific problems and on new administration structure. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.