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Milfoil Watch

Just Say But The Word, Mary Williams, Hill and Lake Press, Volume 28, Number 7, pp.8-9.

The water is, oh so blue as I turn to the month of July on my Freshwater Society 2004 Calendar. July is the time when our gaze navigates naturally to our abundant, sky-colored waters: we are all trying to figure out how to get on the water, in it, under it or just by it. But this year July’s water lust is compounded by extraordinary celebrations. As I write this, a flotilla of paddleboats are churning up the Mississippi River from Rock Island, Illinois to St. Paul, Minnesota to re-enact the Grand Excursion of 150 years ago when 1200 dignitaries including U.S. President Millard Fillmore traveled from Chicago by rail and by water to visit the new frontier.

Later this month Minneapolis, the City of Lakes, will celebrate it 65th Aquatennial from July 15- 25. And this year the final day of the Aquatennial coincides with the 2nd Annual International Thank Water Day as well as the Day Out Of Time Celebration whose origin stems from the greatest previous civilization of the Western Hemisphere. According to Jose Arguelles, an eminent interpreter of the Mayan Calendar, “July 25, 2004, the Day Out of Time, is the 365th day of the Mayan calendar - a day for forgiveness, freedom and celebration (was prophesied as the beginning of the shift toward 2012, the last year of the Mayan Calendar. This date and events occurring on it worldwide initiate the final approach to December 21, 2012 called by the Mayan culture “The Closing of the Cycle” or “The Great Time Shift.” These are extraordinary times. This month I will examine some new ways to understand water, and new reasons to watch what you say. Our word and thought counts more than we ever imagined.


Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, Mary Williams, Hill and Lake Press, Volume 28, Number 4, pp. 17-18.


The lakes were ice packed as the Sun crossed the Vernal Equinox, the midpoint between winter and high summer fun on our Chain of Lakes. On April 22 we shall celebrate Earth Day, the restoring of Beauty to Planet Earth. So, it is the perfect time to consider the rapacious beds of foreign Eurasian watermilfoil (milfoil) on the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Our efforts to stop milfoil pale beside its 152 fold increase in Minnesota lakes over the last 15 years. Yet the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) budget cutbacks will reduce the milfoil program even further this year, and perhaps, close many small swimming beaches. While we wait for money and local government action, all Minneapolis residents can become Chain of Lakes Caregivers through the immediate and specific actions as recommended here. The return of day glow green beds of Eurasian watermilfoil on our lakes this summer and ever after is almost a certainty unless we find new solutions.


Become a Practical Caregiver

As the budget situation persists there are direct and practical things that Minneapolis residents can do to make a real difference. Residents and visitors can do three things: 1) learn to identify Eurasian watermilfoil (see Milfoil ID picture), 2) remove all weeds and high pressure wash your boat and trailer when you leave a lake; and 3) don’t throw any aquatic plants from your bait buckets or aquariums into lakes, rivers or streams. Report new sightings – note exact location; wrap a plant fragment in a wet paper towel, place in a sealed plastic bag; and call the Minnesota Sea Grant Program in Duluth, (218) 726-8712; or the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in St. Paul, 1-888-MINNDNR or (651) 296-2835, or a local DNR fishery office.

All city residents, home and building owners, and visitors should remember that anything dropped or used outside in the alley, driveway, garden, lawn, or street will end up in one of the lakes through your storm sewers. For example house paint, motor oil, car ashtray contents, or lawn fertilizer make our storm sewer water a complex pollutant that milfoil loves. Several years ago the Clean Water Action Task Force published Recipes for Clean Water - A Homeowner's Stormwater Survival Guide written by Bill Boudreau, Environmentalist/Writer and East Calhoun resident in September 1999. Chain of Lake Sewer Watershed neighborhood organizations provided all building and home owners a copy. It is time again to find your copy from behind the refrigerator or wherever, dust it off, and use it.


Residents can also join the Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board MPRB Earth Day Watershed Clean Up on Saturday, April 17. Call the Earth Day Watershed Clean Up Hotline 313-7722 or check the MPRB website www.minneapolisparks.org for more details.


Become a Spiritual Caregiver

While waiting for worldly solutions, we can explore the spiritual approaches that are becoming mainstream practices in fields, such as agriculture, health and meteorology.. Through meditation, Feng Shui practitioners, Barbara Bobrowitz of Energetic Alignments and Jeff Grundtner of Earth Spirit Environments Inc. noted that the lakes are being ignored by its busy passersby. This is depleting their energy. Bobrowitz and Grundnter suggest that every time you see one of the city’s lakes, river, or streams, you need to acknowledge them.


Stephan A. Schwartz, Laboratories for Fundamental Research, Virginia Beach VA, is studying the impact of prayer on post-surgical patients, seed germination, and water temperature by using bona fide scientific methodologies. Thus, he subjects results to scientific criteria, e.g., measurable and repeatable outcomes. (See A Minneapolis Milfoil Project (AMMP) website www.mplsmilfoilproject.org)  Jeff Grundtner said Schwartz’s water studies work because the dipole nature of the water molecule is receptive to electricity. Grundtner also recommends the use of the flowform sculpture as a way of eliciting an appreciation of the miracle of water from people. (See sidebar) These may be some of the cost effective solutions to milfoil clogged waterways that state and local governments are seeking.


AMMP invites you to join the milfoil experiment using meditation or prayer e.g., therapeutic intent. Focus your meditation /prayers on restoring the beauty and health of our Minneapolis Chain of Lakes this Earth Day. If you don’t have a prayer of your own, may I suggest “I am calling in the light of the Spirit of the Lakes to thank you for your Beauty, Power, and Wisdom.” Spirit of the Lakes represents the intelligent energy residing in the lakes; Beauty is the pristine Grade A water quality of the original lake condition; Power is the ability to act, to change, and to purify; and Wisdom is the water’s inherent self-knowledge of the current condition and necessary solutions. Of Minneapolis neighborhoods, 49 out of 84 or 58% include or border city waterways. Of the city’s population, 208,057 residents or 55% live in these neighborhoods. If 5% of an organization can determine its direction, I estimate that we need 19,000 Minneapolis residents to join this effort to return the lakes to their former pristine state. . Sign in at www.mplsmilfoilproject if you and your group plan to participate.


Our information-charged, exercise-oriented, modern life style sends us racing past these ‘jewels in the crown’ which are steadily deteriorating while we struggle to find a biological, chemical or mechanical fix. If ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, perhaps the beholder can restore the beauty. Let’s give our lovely Chain of Lakes an Earth Day treatment of our passion for them through our direct, practical actions and in prayer and meditation. Let’s see what can happen.


 A Navaho Prayer
May I walk with Beauty before me,
May I walk with Beauty behind me,
May I walk with Beauty above me,
May I walk with Beauty below me,
May I walk with Beauty all around me,
As I walk the Beauty way.

The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Harper , San Francisco, 1999, p. 70.



AMMP 5 Years of Milfoil in Minnesota Lakes – An Update for Summer 2003, Mary Williams, Hill & Lake Press, Volume 27, Number 11, December 13, 2003, pp. 5-6.

Eurasian watermilfoil (E. watermilfoil) was first discovered in Minneapolis lakes,the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) has been dedicated to protect the city’s most attractive resource, its freshwater lakes. While more state, county, municipal and watershed policies and resources have been dedicated to the removal of this aquatic plant, these efforts are not commensurate with its vigor and increasing invasion of new lakes each year. In Minneapolis recent budget cutbacks, specialization of responsibilities and lack of institutional memory threaten the Park Board’s Milfoil Program.

Background: Eurasian watermilfoil (E. watermilfoil) in Minnesota was first discovered in 1988 and since then, has played a larger part in the planning and management of the state’s freshwater recreational resources. The successful transfer of the this non-native aquatic plant results from fragments of the plants being carried from lake to lake on boat trailers, and in bait buckets or fish tanks emptied into lakes. Last year the Minnesota Department Natural Resources (DNR) identified 152 lakes that had E. watermilfoil, a 152 fold increase in just 15 years. E. watermilfoil has its greatest impact on water recreation and crowding out native aquatic plants in our lakes. It grows in 1’-16’ of clear water. The clearer the water the deeper it can grow.

DNR Chip Welling, Milfoil Coordinator, says that the Eurasian watermilfoil infestation continues at a rapid pace. Discovered in Lake Minnetonka in 1988, it has steadily increased each year: 2000 121 lakes, 2001 131 lakes, 2002 141 lakes and in 2003 152 lakes contained E. water milfoil. In 2002 the Chain of Lakes experienced more matting which encourages the growth of filamentous algae. This year E. watermilfoil contributed to the low water quality in Lake of the Isles in July.

MPRB Commissioner District 6 Bob Fine said the 2002 growing season started earlier than normal. He was sorry that the overtime milfoil harvesting had to be reduced due the budgetary constraints of the MPRB. One of the problems faced by the Park Board is that the DNR limits the amount that the MPRB can cut. If it were up to him he would cut it all out. But apparently it has become an important fish habitat. MPRB Commissioner District 4 Vivian Mason supports overtime harvesting of the milfoil - a hotly contested issue among MPRB Commissioners.

While E. watermilfoil levels in city lakes frightened all of us as the day glow green beds were filmed for the 6 O’clock News and televised across our community in 2002, the lack of a coherent analysis may be worse. While the cutting goes on and on, there is a lack of institutional memory about the milfoil saga. The water quality programs of the state and municipal agencies lack consistent staffing, data analysis and recordkeeping to be able to acknowledge changes in the milfoil beds, water quality and weather or how these factors interact. Staff changeover results in the loss of information about MPRB ongoing program as the details are forgotten or ignored.            

Specialization of water program staff works against interpreting these various factors in a meaningful way. So that in the late summer of 2002 Welling heralded the “crash of the milfoil”, meaning that the milfoil beds sunk beneath the water surface, as a significant event. Not until the Winter of 2003 did the Lake of the Isles Restoration Project Manager report that work the previous year was stalled due to high water levels. One might draw the conclusion that E. watermilfoil doesn’t like high water. A cheap solution might be to raise the water level in the Chain of Lakes, drown the E. water milfoil early in the season preventing it from getting a running start..

In fact in 2003 the boating season opened on Lake Calhoun with the Sailing Dock underwater, an event that usually occurs during the July rains. And there were no complaints at Lake Calhoun from boaters about the masses of E. water milfoil clogging the surface of the regatta race courses. The lake seemed pretty clear of E. watermilfoil through the sailboat racing season. Could water level management be the Park Board’s answer to the vexing E. water milfoil problem? Its feasibility certainly needs to be tested.

Perhaps the greatest loss to the MPRB Milfoil Program is the Environmental Services Coordinator Position which was not filled due to budgetary constraints. Without this Gate Keeper the myriad of agencies, interests, governmental departments, programs, and people which affect the city lakes and the E. watermilfoil lack monitoring, analysis and innovation. There are many specialized parties which visit the lakes throughout the summer, each to carry out the particular mission, responsibilities or tasks. Each is a closed circuit fact finding, data collection and decision making loop. Seldom are policies of one more than superficially understood by another. As a result the subtle interactions of discreet activities are never reviewed, understood and applied.

But while we are waiting for further illumination on these matters, it never hurts to throw the lakes a compliment as you are running, driving, or biking by on your hurried schedule. We are what we think. And that goes for our environment as well. Either we take care of it by appreciating and honoring it or it turns into something that we didn’t intend. Check out the Minneapolis Milfoil Project web site for more information about how people are using therapeutic intent to heal and change.


Contact us: AquaEssence ReSource, 12002 County Road 11, Burnsville, MN 55337.
952-890-3141 or info@aquaessenceresource.org