What You Can Do

 

1. Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

 

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are plants and animals in our lakes and streams that are not native to Minnesota and many of them can cause significant environmental and economic harm. The Comfort Lake-Forest Lake Watershed District (CLFLWD) is taking a proactive role in preventing the spread of AIS in the watershed. Activities include boat inspections, aquatic vegetation studies and treatments, zebra mussel monitoring, and fish management.

You can help prevent the spread of AIS by:

CLEANING all visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft, trailers, and water-related equipment before leaving any water access or shoreland.

DRAINING water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait containers, motor) and draining bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving a water access or shoreline property. Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.

DISPOSING of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, and worms, in the trash. It is illegal to release bait into a waterbody or release aquatic animals from one waterbody to another. If you want to keep your bait, you must refill the bait container with bottled or tap water.

 

Zebra Mussles

 

REPORTING AIS sightings using the CLFLWD's AIS Observation Form.

Some problematic AIS in the CLFLWD include (click name for more information):
Eurasian Watermilfoil
Curlyleaf Pondweed
Zebra Mussels
Flowering Rush

Purple Loosestrife

Common Carp

Under most circumstances it is illegal to transport any aquatic plants, zebra mussels, New Zealand mudsnails or other prohibited invasive species, or to launch a boat or trailer with these species attached. The MN DNR offers several authorization forms in lieu of permits for specific activities such as transporting a boat to a cleaning and storage location, and transporting prohibited invasive species to a disposal site. Authorization forms are not permits and it is not necessary to apply to the DNR to use them. Simply download and print the appropriate form and carry it with you during transport. See "Training and Permits" on the DNR's AIS website.

Learn more about AIS and what you can do to help prevent their spread by visiting the DNR's AIS website and reading their recent news release.

Thinking about removing aquatic plants like Eurasian watermilfoil in front of your shoreline? Here's an excerpt from the "Lake and Pond Management Guidebook" by Steve McComas with some helpful information. Also see the CLFLWD's Eurasian watermilfoil management information sheet for more info.

2. Collect Data and Samples on a Lake or River

 

The Comfort Lake Forest Lake Watershed District has a comprehensive water monitoring program to track and understand the water quality of its more significant water resources. But, we can't be everywhere all the time! We augment the water data we collect with data that volunteers collect. Volunteers benefit by becoming more aware and informed of a lake or stream's condition which has been known to foster local efforts to protect lakes and support lake management. Consider becoming a volunteer water monitor through one of these programs - contact the District if you're interested or need more information!

Secchi Disc

The Citizen Assisted Monitoring Program (CAMP) is coordinated through the Metropolitan Council. On a bi-weekly basis (April-October), each volunteer collects a surface water sample for lab analysis of total phosphorus, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, and chlorophyll-a. They also measure temperature and water clarity, and record some observations about the lake's physical and recreational condition. The main purpose of CAMP is to provide the District and other agencies with water quality information that will help them properly manage the lake by documenting water quality status and trends.

The Citizen Stream Monitoring Program (CSMP) and the Citizen Lake Monitoring Program (CLMP) are coordinated through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. On lakes, volunteers collect weekly water clarity data by lowering a Secchi disc from a boat or canoe at the lake's deepest point. They also record simple observations about the lake. In streams, volunteers collect weekly water clarity data using a Secchi tube, usually from a bridge or foot bridge over the stream. They also record additional observations about the stream's condition. Like CAMP, these programs provide the District and other agencies with data and information so they can properly manage water resources by documenting water quality status and trends.

3. Participate on the Citizen Advisory Committee

 

The CLFLWD Board of Managers and District staff uses the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) to gather input and advice from watershed residents. The CAC meets monthly thoughout the year. Consider becoming a member of the CAC and lend your input on the District's project, programs and budget. Interested community members are asked to complete this CAC application.

4. Use Best Practices Around Your Home and Property

 

The health and condition of lakes and streams are a reflection of the everyday activities of residents, businesses, and property owners throughout the watershed. Ultimately, everyone owns shoreland property whether they live on the banks of a river or lake, or not! The water that runs off your property ends up in a lake or stream through storm drains in the street or swales along the road! Even leaves and grass clippings should stay out of storm drains as the leach large amounts of phosphorus (algae food!) once in the water. Here are some simple practices to use around your home to help improve water quality:

Maintain your septic system

  • Have your septic system pumped out at least once every three years. This will allow your septic tank to operate efficiently.
  • Be careful not to flush or pour into your drains anything that will kill the bacteria that live in your septic tank. Healthy colonies of bacteria in your septic tank are needed to properly process wastewater and reduce nutrient inputs to the groundwater.
  • Do not use garbage disposals; they contribute unnecessary solids and grease to your septic system. Use a compost pile instead.
  • Do not put trash in toilets.

 

WaterSense label

 

Use water wisely

  • Home Water Use Survey: Take this survey from the University of Minnesota Turff Grass Research Department for a chance to win a $50 Visa Gift Card!
  • Use an irrigation controller to reduce unnecessary watering
  • Irrigate in the early morning or early evening.
  • Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation versus sprinklers.
  • Use organic mulch around plants.
  • Select plants that have low requirements for water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • Water lawns during off-peak hours and use a timer to shut off the water.
  • Sweep walkways rather than using a hose to wash them down.
  • Use water conserving appliances in your home - look for the WaterSense label.

Plant for clean water, diversity, and pollinators

 

  • Install a rain garden to help soak up rainwater from your rooftop and driveway or restore your shoreline to prevent erosion and provide habitat. There are workshops that teach you how to plan and install the garden and the District can even provide cost share funds for your project! Browse the East Metro Water Resources (EMWREP) homepage for more information on events.
  • Create a buffer of native plants along streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands to prevent stormwater and its pollutants from running over land to the waterbody.
  • Mow less by planting native perennials around the edges of your yard. Plant a variety of native and pollinator-friendly plants to attract bees and butterflies, increase diversity, and use less irrigating and pesticides.
  • Learn more about Planting for Clean Water© through Blue Thumb at www.bluethumb.org.

Use environmentally-friendly lawn care practices

 

  • Mulch grass clippings and leaves back into your lawn. This practice reduces the need for one fertilizer application per year. And, always keep leaves and grass clippings out of the streets and out of our lakes!
  • Start a backyard compost pile. Place compost pile at least 50 feet from any body of water. Learn more about backyard composting from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
  • Use zero-phosphorus lawn fertilizer, and keep fertilizer off sidewalks, streets, and shorelines (or sweep up from hard surfaces!).
  • Maintain a healthy lawn - mow grass to a height of 2-3 inches, seed in the spring and fall, and aerate and de-thatch in the fall.
  • If you fertilize once a year, do so in the fall
  • Use native plants in landscaping and along shorelines and remove invasive, non-native plants.
  • Use pesticides sparingly or use non-toxic alternatives. Sweep up or clean up unused pesticides from driveways, sidewalks and streets.
  • Avoid the use of neonicotinoid pesticides which are implicated in the decline of bee populations.

 

Reduce stormwater run-off

 

Reduce stormwater run-off and pollutants from leaving your property

  • Make sure gutter downspouts and sprinklers drain into grass or gardens to reduce runoff and to increase absorption of rainwater.
  • Spread mulch on bare ground to help prevent erosion and runoff.
  • Use a rain barrel to capture water from downspouts and put it to use in your gardens.
  • Aerate your lawn or plant rain gardens in low areas will allow infiltration of stormwater and reduce the volume of run-off reaching our lakes and streams.

Use pesticides carefully and incorporate integrated pest management (IPM)

 

  • Use alternative pest control products that use nontoxic, yet effective substances. If you must buy toxic products, never buy or use more than you need and follow instructions carefully.
  • IPM is the integration of various management strategies - including biological, cultural, and chemical methods - into a comprehensive program of pest control for the home landscape. This includes 1) checking plants regularly to look for signs of problems; 2) treating only infected plants or lawn areas; and 3) identifying beneficial insects that provide natural pest control.

 

Protect shorelines and wetlands

 

Protect shorelines and wetlands

  • Leave it natural. Leave a natural 15 to 25 foot buffer along lakes, streams and wetlands. This will reduce and filter runoff that carries fertilizers and pesticides, deter geese from camping in your yard, and provide habitat to critters that need protection near the water.
  • Protect, preserve, or restore wetlands on your property. Wetlands provide numerous benefits to the landscape including fish and wildlife habitat, rare species habitat, flood control, groundwater recharge, and natural filtration.

Plant trees for numerous environmental benefits

 

  • Trees reduce soil erosion and control run-off from your yard. Reducing erosion and preventing run-off will reduce the amount of sediments and pollutants entering the lakes and streams in the watershed.
  • Trees provide beneficial habitat and food for many creatures that live in the watershed.
  • Trees clean and cool our air and return pure oxygen - and - as they grow, absorb carbon dioxide (which slows global climate change).
  • Trees buffer noise.

5. Restore Your Shore or Install a Raingarden

 

The Comfort Lake – Forest Lake Watershed District offers cost-share grants for projects that improve water quality and/or decrease stormwater runoff. Such projects not only improve water quality, but also preserve native plant and wildlife communities affected by lakes, rivers and wetlands. Potential projects include shoreline and stream bank restoration/stabilization, raingardens, erosion control projects and native plantings.  Highest priority is given to collaborative projects resulting in measureable reductions in stormwater and nutrient loadings to receiving water resources and those with opportunities for public education.

New in 2016 is the plant grant program for native plantings.

For more information visit the Cost-Share Program webpage.

 

 

6. Learn More with Presentations, Workshops, Green Congregations

 

There are many opportunities to learn more about the watershed, its resources, and ways you can help lakes and streams. The CLFLWD partners with the East Metro Water Resources Education Program (EMWREP) to provide educational workshops, articles, and materials for residents and groups. Here are a few ways you can bring the education to you!

  • Register for a workshop and learn how to install raingardens or restore your shoreline. Or, request a customized workshop for your group. Contact the CLFLWD for more information.
  • Arrange for staff to bring a water resources presentation, display, or materials your group or event (Rotary, Lions, scouts, church, etc.).
  • Ask your community newsletter or local newspaper to publish water-related articles found on the EMWREP blog and/or keep up with the blog on your own for a regular dose of learning!
    http://eastmetrowater.areavoices.com/.
  • Download educational flyers and other materials for you or your group at http://www.mnwcd.org/emwrep-resources.
  • Green your congregation! Bring educational displays or materials to your church's coffee hour - or install a raingarden or other water friendly feature. Learn more at http://www.mnwcd.org/green-congregations.

7. Get More Information