- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

OKOBOJI, Iowa (AP) - An invasive plant that has spread through one of Iowa’s Great Lakes has started dying, but it will remain a nuisance for much of the summer.

State fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins told the Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/1LK78GU ) that the dead curly-leaf pondweed will remain rooted to the bottom of East Lake Okoboji or will float to the top, likely hampering activities on the lake.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said in May that the weeds’ expansion was the largest seen in the lake in more than 30 years. The last time the plant had grown at such a rate in the lake was in the mid-1980s. Growing conditions were prime this year because of cool winter temperatures, clear water and short ice cover.

“Curly-leaf pondweed is really quick to come on in the early spring, even underneath ice,” Hawkins said.

He said that after a recent inspection of the lake, officials determined that the plant species is dying at a greater pace than expected.

“It was surprising how quickly it had gone down,” he said. “It has definitely reduced in volume.”

But lake-goers can expect larger blue-green algae blooms later this summer, according to Hawkins.

The algae can be harmful to humans, causing a skin reaction or illness, but usually it’s more of a threat to small animals that may go into the lake. Wind and warm water temperatures are among factors that would promote algae blooms.

“Sometimes that toxin is present, sometimes it’s not,” Hawkins said. “We always advise people to avoid those areas if there are blue-green algae blooms occurring.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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