LCO Launches Attack on Invading Plants

May 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-4: International Indigenous Education, Tribal College News
LCOO BOAT

WEAPON OF DESTRUCTION. The Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College Extension Service attacks invading plants to protect recreation and wildlife.

The Chippewa Flowage, adjacent to the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwe Reservation, is Wisconsin’s third largest lake. The flowage is an important resource for the LCO Ojibwe people for both subsistence and recreation.

Now the lake’s future is threatened by two aquatic invasive plant species — eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) and purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).

The LCO Ojibwe Community College Extension has recently received funding for a 3-year project that will monitor the populations of eurasian watermilfoil and purple loosestrife on the Chippewa Flowage. Data obtained by this research will help local and state agencies to manage these two invasive species, according to Erik Olson, the extension agent at LCO Ojibwe Community College (Hayward, WI).

Eurasian watermilfoil is a feathery, submerged, aquatic plant native to northern Europe and Asia. Since it was introduced to this continent, it has spread across much of North America. It forms dense mats in shallow areas of lakes and rivers making it difficult to fish, swim, and boat. The thick mats can kill native vegetation, wildlife, and fish and thus lower property values.

Purple loosestrife is an emergent, perennial plant native to Europe and Asia. It also is spreading rapidly in Wisconsin and North America. Thick stands of purple loosestrife can choke out native vegetation and reduce food, shelter, and nesting sites for native wildlife. It is especially harmful to waterfowl, muskrats, and wild rice.

The tribal college extension office is educating the local and state communities about invasive species as well as helping to manage them. Funding for the project came from a USDA, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) National Water Quality Program Grant.

“This is very competitive process. Tribal colleges must compete against large universities. Our success in obtaining this award was due to our effective collaborations with numerous local agencies and organizations,” Olson says.

The college is collaborating with the LCO Conservation Department, University of Wisconsin Extension, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, U.S. Forest Service, and local agencies and organizations on this project.

For details, contact Erik Olson at LCOOCC by email eolson@lco-college.edu, or check the project’s web site www.lco-college.edu (click on extension).

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