Permits Needed Before Using Chemicals or Herbicides on Aquatic Vegetation

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SPOONER, Wis. — Waterfront owners buying chemicals for weed treatments along and in their shorelines should know they need a Department of Natural Resources permit before using the product. The permit is necessary to insure proper use of the chemical and prevent harm to the lake or stream.

“Aquatic plants are important parts of a lake’s ecosystem – they provide oxygen for the fishery, habitat and water quality,” said Tom Jerow, waters media leader for the DNR’s northern region. “But we recognize that too much of a good thing is a problem and shore owners sometimes need to control plants. We use the permits to make sure that plant treatments are applied at the best times and in the best way to protect the lake.”

A number of advertisements have been placed in the media recently announcing chemicals that “kill weeds.” The ads, however, fail to mention the need for a Department of Natural Resources permit and other important information.

Jerow said that only those chemicals registered with the U.S. EPA and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) can be used on Wisconsin waterways. He added that when controlling aquatic plants with chemicals, it is important to correctly identify the plants and the appropriate chemical beforehand and to be certain that treatment occurs at the proper timing and dosage. To apply chemicals in liquid form, the applicator must be licensed with the DATCP. It is often best to contract with a commercial applicator.

The only time a permit is not required to control aquatic plants is when a shoreline owner hand-pulls or rakes plants, except wild rice, from his/her shoreline. That work can occur in an area that is 30 feet or less in width extending from the shore to open water. Non-native invasive plants (Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed, and purple loosestrife) may be manually removed beyond 30 feet without a permit, as long as native plants are not harmed. Wild rice removal always requires a permit and is only allowed in very restricted circumstances after consultation with Tribal Natural Resources Departments.

“Working together to assure good management of aquatic plants, we can maintain the qualities of a waterway that attracted the shoreline owner to the area in the first place,” Jerow said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Jerow – 715-365-8901