Weed Harvesting

Document (1)A weed harvester is used to cut and harvest aquatic plants and control invasive species on Bangs Lake. The dominant invasive plant species on Bangs Lake are Eurasian Water Milfoil and Curly-leaf Pondweed. The invasive species are a problem because they grow quickly and prevent the native plants that are an essential part of the lake ecosystem from growing. The Village of Wauconda Environmental Quality Department, in cooperation with the Lake County Health Department Lakes Management Unit and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, has developed a plan to manage the aquatic plants on Bangs Lake. The goals of the harvesting program are listed below:

Weed Harvester Goals:
  • Improve navigation
  • Improve recreational attributes of the lake
  • Remove or limit exotic plants
  • Manage without the use of chemicals
  • Reduce nutrient load to lake
  • Return native plants to lake
  • Restore fish and wildlife habitat
  • Improve quality of water resource for all to enjoy
  • Implement plan with Lake County to leave sensitive areas undisturbed.

Harvesting ProcessThe Environmental Quality Department has received a bathymetric map from Lake County delineating sensitive areas of native plant species and locations of the invasive species. It also indicates the density of the invasive plants. It is essential that we do not over harvest native plants because the water quality of the lake is dependent on the native aquatic plants. Lanes for navigation will be harvested in sensitive areas to allow for boat traffic. In some sensitive areas the harvester blade will be lifted to allow for mowing rather than complete removal of aquatic plants. The harvester will also avoid fish spawning areas during May and June to allow the fish to reproduce. As you can see, the harvest program will be challenging, but our goal is to strike a balance between our recreational activities and the water quality of the lake.

Invasive Plant RemovalSince the Environmental Quality Department’s inception, the operation of the weed harvester has been shared with the Public Works Department. Public Works Department staff operates the weed harvester to cut and harvest aquatic plants and to control invasive plant species in Bangs Lake. A total of 771 cubic yards of aquatic plants were removed from the lake between May 2011 and September 2011. Weeds are taken to a nearby composting facility where they become a key ingredient in the compost. Over 400 labor hours are spent to conduct this activity. Environmental Quality Department staff coordinates this activity with the Lake County Health Department Lakes Management Unit and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.