Prevention is the best strategy for keeping Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) out of Lake Owen and other area lakes.  Invasive plants, animals and pests are taking a toll on Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers, and landscapes.  AIS cause damage to natural systems by displacing native species. Their aggressive growth can create mats of plants that inhibit navigation and make swimming, boating, and fishing unpleasant.  Zebra mussels, a particularly, concerning AIS, can blanket shallow waters with sharp shells and attach to and cover docks, lifts, and boats.  Once an AIS is established, it can be extremely expensive or even impossible to control.

Each year since September, 2020, the Lake Owen Association operates a highly effective hot water, high pressure washer to remove potential aquatic invasive species (AIS) from boats, trailers, and equipment entering Lake Owen.  Hot water (140F) kills AIS, even the larval form of Zebra Mussels in 10 seconds. In more sensitive areas such as live wells, bilges, and ballast tanks, 120F water is used and held for a slightly longer period of time (2 minutes). Trained staff screen boaters with a series of questions and observations to identify when decontamination is needed.

The north landing was staffed from 5/26/23 through 10/2/23. In 2023, 158 boats were decontaminated at the Lake Owen North Outlet hot water, high pressure decontamination station. This represents 25% of boats that entered Lake Owen when the landing was staffed, up from 13% in 2022. AIS such as Zebra Mussels (ZM) and Eurasian Water Milfoil (EWM) are present in nearby lakes, across Minnesota and Wisconsin, and beyond. The last lake visited for decontaminated boats included Namakagon – 27 boats (where hybrid EWM is present), Lake Superior – 17 boats, (EWM, ZM), St. Croix River and Deer Lake (ZM), Middle Eau Claire – 11 boats (curly leaf pondweed), Lake Hayward, Chippewa Flowage, and Round Lake (EWM). In 2022, 54 boats were decontaminated at the station. In 2021, 22 boats were decontaminated.

This year the Lake Owen Association installed a traffic counter at boat landings to identify traffic patterns and better target staffing coverage in their expanded fight against AIS .  Here are graphs showing the Days of the Weeks and the Hours of the Day that the boat landings were in use: