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INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS

This is not an article about global warming, although it might as well be something like it, but much smaller in scope and potential effect. This article is about that invasive plant species brought over from Europe called the Starry Stonewort. It is here, and this plant can spread from its current isolated haven in the back corner of the Trinke Estates lagoon if it is given free rein by being ignored. Over time, this plant is likely to spread and invade the main body of Geneva Lake, and of that, there is very little scientific doubt.

The problem, like with global warming, is what to do about it. Nobody wants to step up and do battle with this nesting, resting “pod spread” beast if it is going to cost money or if it is going to cause conditions that might be considered wholly uncomfortable or even embarrassing. The problem, as is usual with environmental concerns, is that the cost to remove the alien beast is high, and the potential treatment of the sludge that must be sucked up from the bottom of the lagoon is problematic. Extremely problematic. The sludge cannot be dredged from Trinke Lagoon the normal way (with backhoes and such from the shore). Special barges and sucking hoses must be brought in, and then let loose to pump out the sludge and water (where the beast is resting quietly for the winter) up through pipes and hoses to come to rest in giant geo bags made from materials that will let the water slowly leech out while the sludge becomes a solid, so the plant cannot survive in any way.

The preferred method of performing this operation would call for the filling of huge nearby bags. Incidentally, when summer comes and the bags begin to dry-out they emit some pretty bad aromas around the area where they are kept. Trinke Estates, the place where these alien plants are now residing, does not want the bags on their property. No kidding. Nobody wants the bags on Trinke property. The Geneva Lake Environmental Agency (GLEA) will happily pay for the pumping but pump the stuff to where? Smaller bags might be used, to be placed on flat-bed trucks to be taken to far away to less populated areas, but there is also the need to acquire a permit and an exception from the DNR for removing any water from the lake, no matter what the reason, not to mention return filtered water back into the main body of the lake because the sludge will be composed of almost seventy percent water. It is unknown, currently, whether the DNR will grant such an exception.

Also, there is an issue wherein the contractors state that they do not want to stop, disconnect and then reconnect to fill new bags while they work, which would seem to negate the use of smaller bags that can be moved by truck (the big giant ones cannot be moved by anything when they are filled). The contractors available to do the job say the sludge would simply fall back into the area they’d removed it from, and they don’t want to be responsible for that.

And there it all sits, the beast waiting in the sludge in the frozen bed under the ice covering the Trinke Lagoon area, while the DNR, the GLEA, Trinke Estates board of directors, and some lake activists circle around during the closing days of this Wisconsin winter. Contractors must be hired soon if the infestation is to be “gone at” this spring or summer. The unspoken question, if asked in whispers, might be; should Trinke Estates be closed and the water in its lagoon impeded from entering the body of the main lake?

If decisions are not made soon then that will become the only viable action that might be sufficient to temporarily save Geneva Lake from eventually being covered by unkillable mats of this very invasive plant. Think of the Kudzu vines that now cover and choke most forests of the American south.

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