Wisconsinites, act now to stop an invader – curly leaf pondweed

Manning a sport show booth is a part of my job here at Wisconsin Outdoor News. It is a pleasure to speak with our readers and catch up with industry colleagues on the winter leg of my sport show tour. It seems like every year I cross paths with someone with whom I have not spoken in a while and it is always interesting to hear where careers and lives have lead.

This February I was able to reconnect with Chris Hamerla. Chris and I worked together for a sporting goods retailer in a "past life."

Chris is now the regional aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development Council. The Golden Sands RCDC is dedicated to conserving the natural resources of Wisconsin's Central Sands Region, which includes portions of Adams, Green Lake, Juneau, Marathon, Marquette. Monroe, Outagamie, Portage, Taylor, Waupaca, Waushara and Wood counties.

In catching up, our conversation turned to habitat, and then to the subject of invasive species. Hamerla explained how 2015's late winter combined with our early spring is providing Wisconsin with a unique opportunity to monitor and detect a significant aquatic invasive species; curly leaf pondweed. Curly leaf pondweed is an invasive from Eurasia, and here in Wisconsin it outcompetes native plants, forming dense mats and potentially aggravating algae blooms.

Hamerla explained the plant's lifecycle. The fruits of curly leaf pondweed, called tureens, fall to the lake bed and remain dormant until waters cool in late fall. As cold water causes native plants to die back, curly leaf pond weed turions germinate, growing into newly formed plants until winter snow cover blocks light penetration. After ice out, when light penetration returns, curly leaf pondweed matures rapidly. The plant produces a fresh crop of turions in June and July before disappearing in late summer.

The late ice up in 2015, followed by the early ice out we are now experiencing, has resulted in near perfect conditions for curly leaf pondweed, and the plants should be highly visible in infected waters.

Because of its lifecycle, curly leaf pondweed is especially at home in cold water, which makes it a special threat in spring fed lakes and trout streams. While management is daunting in waterways as large as the Wisconsin River, control in isolated lakes and streams can be feasible. Early detection is the key.

For help identifying curly leaf pond you can visit the Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development Council's aquatic invasive species page;


If you think you have found curly leaf pond weed, you should collect a sample and record the date, time and location (gps coordinates where possible) while taking special care to avoid contaminating another water body. Report your find to DNR or to Chris Hamerla at Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development Council; chris.hamerla@goldensandsrcd.org

If our early spring finds you finds you on lakes and streams in the coming weeks, keep your eyes peeled for curly leaf pond weed, early detection is the key to controlling this aquatic invasive, and your vigilance could mean the difference between a problem and a solution.


Categories: Blog Content, News, WisBlogs, Wisconsin – Chris Jennings

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