The following article was written by Dave Hile, President of Friends of Loring Park, and published in the the FLP September Newsletter.
Cattail Project Update
With the cattail removal project underway, it and public interest piqued; it is a good time to review the situation, past and present.
The hybridized cattails that are spreading and filling in the ponds of Loring Park are a cross between the native cattail and the narrow-leafed cattail – a native of Eurasia. These cattails are very aggressive and thrive in a wide range of conditions. Hybrid cattails spread through their roots, and can quickly form floating mats. State regulations that didn’t differentiate between invasive and native species prevented early control, and now the north lake is almost completely filled with a floating mat, and the plantings of native emergent aquatic species in both ponds have been crowded out, decreasing plant diversity and wildlife habitat.
In 2014, legislation was passed allowing MPRB to manage the invasive cattails and plant native aquatic emergent vegetation in Loring Ponds. In the fall of 2014, the MPRB contracted with Applied Ecological Services (AES) to cut the cattails at the surface of the water and then raise the level of the water to suffocate the invasive plant. There is evidence this year that where the cattails were cut andflooded the plants for the most part died. Unfortunately, the shoreline can’t be flooded, and neither can the floating mat.
This August the Park Board awarded a new three year contract to AES to continue to control the cattails. ln late August continuing into autumn, AES will cut the cattails in areas that can be flooded, suffocating the remaining cattails, and then returning in the fall of 2016 to cut and flood surviving plants.
Since the cattails on shore and in the floating mat can’t be suffocated by raising the water level, the Park Board has pro posed applying the herbicide Aquaneat to each individual shore cattail and spraying the floating mat cattails. When this solution was presented at an open house at Loring Park on August 11th, there was a contingent of citizens strongly opposed to the use of the herbicide, also known as Roundup. At the present time AES has been cutting cattails and the herbicide issue is under review.
It is hoped that if and when the cattails are at 10% of present levels, MPRB maintenance staff will be able to control them and not let them get out of hand in the future. When the cattails are under control (unfortunately it is unlikely they will ever be entirely eliminated) native aquatic and shore plants will be re-planted.