Recent vegetation surveys on Charley and Wilkinson Lakes are part of our ongoing efforts to better understand the ecology of our lakes.
Some of the insights we gain from these efforts include an analysis of nutrients in the lakes, types of vegetation, and the status of potential invasive species. For example, Curly Leaf Pondweed is an aquatic invasive that releases phosphorus into the water as it dies back in the Summer. As this happens, the release of nutrients causes larger algae blooms. Knowing how much Curly Leaf Pondweed we're working with helps us know what to expect and guides us in making lake management decisions. This year's baseline will let us know if the population is getting worse or improving over the next few years.
Another piece of the puzzle is the balance of lake nutrients. This is similar to a person going to the doctor. If a shallow lake is rich in vegetation, we can assume that those plants are holding the nutrients that otherwise would cause algae blooms. If those plants are also a diverse mix of native plants such as Coontail and White Water Lily, we can assume that lake is healthy and more resilient in its ability to support aquatic life.
Lastly, the most exciting part of lake management comes when we fit all the pieces together. For example, we know from our Bathymetry studies in early 2017 that Charley Lake gets to be 15' deep in the middle. With this we can see how lake depth and vegetation interact. This provides insight to the lake's wintering abilities, its limits in holding nutrients, as well as how sediments are moving and shaping the lake over time.