Howard Delo

The Department of Fish and Game issued a news release the end of April closing Alexander and Sucker lakes to any sports fishing through the end of October. The reason stated for this closure was to reduce the spread of the invasive plant species, Elodea.

According to the release, “Due to the frequency of floatplane traffic on Alexander and Sucker lakes, and that elodea can reproduce from a single plant fragment, there is a high risk of elodea spreading to other waterbodies.” By closing the two lakes to any sports fishing activity, the hope is that the spread of Elodea will be significantly restricted around the state.

The news release continues, “Successful eradication of Elodea from the Alexander Creek watershed is imperative to prevent the spread of this highly invasive plant and to prevent the threat on pristine fish habitat in Southcentral Alaska. Due to the location of these lakes’, eradication will be expensive, and will require multiple years to complete.”

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I recently received a copy of an email addressed to the Alexander and Sucker Lakes Elodea Task Force containing updates on the situation at Alexander and Sucker Lakes. The email states, “Due to funding delays, procurement issues, evolving decisions on use of injector systems, some final logistical challenges, and staff capacity, all fluoridone treatments (which were originally scheduled to begin in Sucker Lake this year) will be delayed until 2020. This year’s focus has now shifted entirely to containment, flow data collection, fundraising, and outreach….

“The current plan of attack (2019 containment and preparation for full treatments in 2020), as outlined in the email is: Emergency Order to reduce potential for float plane dispersal of Elodea (this was handled by the ADF&G news release mentioned earlier); diquat in both Sucker and Alexander Lakes to knock back Elodea into the fall (more vector reduction); complete dye studies to inform fluoridone prescriptions; collect flow data to inform fluoridone prescriptions; and overcome logistical hurdles in preparation for full treatments in 2020.

The task force had been working through the winter months to develop a plan on containing and eliminating the Elodea infestations in these two lakes. While they have suffered some setbacks in their planning, they have still accomplished several vital items: “Among the many achievements of this task force, permits will be in place within the next few weeks, we’ve raised $200,000 in confirmed funds, opened avenues for state, federal, and potentially private funding, secured an unprecedented containment and collaboration tool in the form of an emergency fishery closure, and have done so much outreach that Elodea is on the tip of the tongue of directors, commissioners, legislators and stakeholders.”

The email lists several ways folks can help in this effort to eradicate the Elodea invasion: first, sign up to help in the field (here is the link to DNR’s field plan: — You do not need to be certified to help —; second, continue spreading the word about Elodea (talk to pilots and other recreationists about how to stop the spread of Elodea; third, help survey for Elodea; fourth, fundraise; and finally, continue involvement in technical planning. This last point would involve getting active with the task force itself.

A good contact to get involved in this whole process is: Nicole Swenson, Conservation Director, Tyonek Tribal Conservation District, 1689 C Street, Room 219, Anchorage, AK 99501. Her phone number is: (907) 646-3110.

Funding is a major concern in this war on Elodea. If memory serves, the figure of $700,000 is the current initial cost for making significant headway in eliminating Elodea in Alexander and Sucker Lakes. Every year this effort is delayed, the cost will increase.

Boaters can also spread Elodea if they’re not careful. Just as a plant fragment stuck on a plane float can introduce the plant into a new waterbody, running a boat through an Elodea-infested waterway can result in pieces of plant material adhering to outboard motors or inboard intakes. It’s a good idea to check your boat, motor, and trailer and wash off any adhering material before launching into a different lake or river system.

I need to get my pressure washer fired up and begin washing boats, trailers, RVs, ATVs and trucks. As soon as the boat is cleaned up, I need to get it into a local lake and run it to be sure it will operate reliably for the summer season.

I’ve only run the boat once since it went through a major tune-up, so I’m thinking it should be good to go!

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