Wisconsin Aquatic Weed Removal Guide
Updated: Jun 14, 2019
There's a lake on my property but my kids keep getting tangled up in the weeds while they're out swimming. What can I do to protect them?
In doing research for this article we found 51 documented invasive aquatic plants in the Great Lakes region. 10 are so bad they're prohibited in Wisconsin. The government has labeled them bad for the environment and/or humans. Also, there are a handful that are restricted according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. They're not believed to be as bad, but still aren't great for your lake or pond.
Many kill other native species and get in the way of swimming, boating, and fishing. Some are worse. They have clogged waterways and cause flooding. A few destroy fish populations if left alone. A couple can contribute to wildfires. Most will survive freezing in the winter and grow back year after year. It's best to take care of them early and often, so if you're starting to show signs of them appearing it is time to take action.
Prohibited Aquatic Plants
• Australian swamp crop, Crassula helmsii • Brazillian waterweed, Egeria densa • Brittle naiad, Najas minor • European Frogbit, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae
• Fanwort, Cabomba caroliniana • Hydrilla, Hydrilla verticillata • Oxygen-weed, Lagarosiphon major • Parrot feather, Myriophyllum aquaticum • Water chestnut, Trapa natans • Yellow floating heart, Nymphoides peltata
What can I do to clear them out, legally?
We encounter people with misconceptions of questions about the law out at trade shows all the time, so we sifted through the various laws and departments to make it easier for you. Laws can change and we’ll update these guides as quickly as possible. As always, you should contact your local office of the Department of Environmental Quality or Department of Natural Resources for advice on your exact situation.
Note: AquaticWeedTools is not a law firm. As such, AquaticWeedTools does not provide legal advice. The material in this guide does not constitute legal advice nor does contributing to the guide or communicating with AquaticWeedTools or other contributors about the guide create an attorney-client relationship.
The State of Wisconsin lets you do a lot to remove the weeds in your ponds or lake without a permit if it’s your land and you’re using mechanical tools. If you like being able to do what you want with your land without a lot of red tape, tools are the way to go.
Wisconsin DNR and DEQ is OK with you using a mechanical "harvesting tool" to clear out aquatic weeds without a permit for a 30-foot area, and the permits for removing more are pretty inexpensive.
We recommend it because chemical treatment involves a lot of red tape, can be very expensive, the permit application and inspections are time consuming, and it's very hard on everything from native plants and wildlife to your neighbors and family. Also, if Wisconsin State law isn't properly followed you could be arrested even without a warrant and face a jury trial, jail and a significant fine.
Cleaning your lake or pond with a tool is not only legal but it’s pretty safe with the Dock Weed Knife. It’s clearly better and safer to just do it yourself with a little elbow grease.
Where did we get this info?
EPA - Invasive Aquatic Plants of the Great Lakes Region
Invasive Species Brochure - State of Wisconsin
Mechanized Aquatic Plant Management
NOAA - Great Lakes Invasive Aquatic Plants Wisconsin DNR Permits
What should I use to clear my lake without getting a bunch of permits?
For Wisconsin weeds, we recommend using the Dock Weed Rake and Dock Weed Knife, and the Surf/Sand Rake to remove them once you're done cutting them down. Simply dispose of them like you would yard debris, compost them or there are companies you can hire to haul them away.
Having a clear pond all summer has never been so easy and safe for your family. If you have any questions at all, reach out to us. Our experts are ready to help!