Beaver Lake Initiative
Zebra mussels aren’t the only invasive species that can impact Whitefish Lake and our local economy. In October 2011, Eurasian Watermilfoil (EWM) was discovered by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation near the boat ramp on Beaver Lake near Whitefish. Beaver Lake is hydrologically connected to Whitefish Lake and there are numerous methods for the plant to be spread from Beaver Lake to Whitefish Lake. An AIS response team—of which WLI was a member—responded to the discovery for further investigation. Bottom barriers were placed over the identified patch and a control/eradication plan was developed by a multiple agency workgroup in which the City of Whitefish and WLI participated.
If left untreated, EWM forms dense mats of vegetation on the surface of the water that can interfere with recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, and boating, and that threatens the health of the water body. The resulting effect can be the loss of recreational use, decline in ecosystem health, and a decrease in lakefront property values. EWM reproduces successfully and very rapidly and plant fragments can colonize new areas, making it a threat to any water body it invades.
Since 2012, WLI and the City of Whitefish have taken the lead in addressing the EWM issue at Beaver Lake. As part of the Whitefish AIS Management Plan, WLI coordinated a suction dredging operation to eradicate plants. In 2012, 23.5 pounds of EWM was removed. The program has proven successful with fewer plants found each year. This atypical AIS success story is the result of very early detection coupled with rapid and aggressive eradication techniques. Because of the real threat to Whitefish Lake and the watershed, Montana Fish, Wildlife, & PArks will continue monitoring in partnership with WLI and suction dredging until there is confidence that the EWM has been eradicated.
See all the organizations who are partnering on the Aquatic Invasive Species efforts.