WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) Curly leaf is green, slimey, and no friend to Lake Wausau. After a major clean up in the lake, crews found nearly a half a million pounds of an invasive species of weeds. For the past five years, the Lake Wausau Association has been working with the Department of Natural Resources, Army Corp Engineers, UW Stevens Point and various organizations to remove the weed and they've been making improvements.
Ed Walder has been harvesting weeds in Wausau for the past three years and he's seen a decrease of the weed population since then.
Yet, this month alone, he's collected tons, to be exact, 500,000 lbs of Curly Leaf Pond Weed was removed from Lake Wausau. Many people may not even realize the problem exists. That's why the Lake Wausau Association is trying to raise awareness.
"I think it has something to do with the out of sight out of mind deal," said Julian Basuki, a member of the group. "Because it's literally happening under the surface so if you look at the lake it looks fine, but if you go underneath the surface you'll find a lot of things that aren't supposed to be there."
Scott Provost, a specialist at the Wisconsin DNR, says taking care of the problem sooner than later is essential.
"If we cut it now, remove it, we're getting rid of that possibility of propagation, we are trying to curtail the growth of that so that way we bring more native plants and increase diversity out there," said Provost.
Cleaning up the lake could help the City of Wausau too. In fact, when a major clean up, similar to this one, was done in Lake Winnebago, DNR research found it improved the economy in the area.
"People aren't going to want to swim in weeds," said Basuki. "I think by taking care of the lake it is something people are going to use more so that's what we're doing as an organization."
It could help spending in the area too.
"That brings more people in to use the lake, such as fisherman, that all brings money into the economy as well," said Provost. "The other thing property value goes up as water quality increases, as we improve water quality that's how this community will benefit."
Since harvesting for the past few years, The Lake Wausau Association says they've seen a decrease in population. The organization plans to work with the Army Corp of Engineers to finalize the Lake Management Plan.
Wondering how you can help? Clean off your boat after going to different bodies of water this way various aquatic plants and weeds will not spread.