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Cattails for wave dissipation


Horton
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Seems like most ski lakes treat Cattails as weeds and evil. It's been a number of years since I've been to Cottonwood but as I remember it there's Cattails all the way down the shore line on one side. Does anybody intentionally leave Cattails on the side of the lake to knock down backwash?

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Yes. Wonderful as backwash inhibitors. But they do expand from the shore out so over time they can narrow a path or lake. Also work well for erosion as their root system is robust and well anchored. But difficult to control by manual removal for this reason.
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We have cattails around most of our lake and they work great for wave dissipation. We have not noticed them expanding out into the lake and I'm actual trying to grow new ones along a few places of the shoreline where they are not present and we tend to get some rollers, depending on lake levels.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think they would grow in water deeper than 3-4'.

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We had a few nice sections of cattails for years and they do knock down backwash. The only issue is they make access to the water for fishing or just getting into the water a little difficult. Normal cattails are not tall enough to block your view, and are good for fish and wildlife.

 

Phragmites, not to be confused with cattails, on the other hand, are not native and can grow to 15 feet tall, multiply rapidly and have an complex root system, so virtually impossible to eradicate. They take over and run out native cattails, and because of their sharp edges, are not nice to walk through, and fish and wildlife don't like them either. At 10-15 foot high, they block the view of the lake.

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@Horton the cattails are on the shore of most the lake, openings on the dock end, a spread mid course to view from the tower and the side where the houses are but restart down to the far end...yes they have grown out, I would say about 3'-4' of water depth they stop encroaching. Depth to shore varies some places 10'-12' out but couldn't run a boat there anyway. They have been there forever and they DO NOT cause any rollers, block wind really well and keep the shoreline intact. I will not remove them, couple spots I will work on decreasing their depth but would love them all along the house side too.
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@A_B Not all phragmites are invasive. The native ones in my lake have been out competed by the cattails. They don't grow as deep or as thick. Arguably more desirable as shoreline.

 

Of course, if you do get infested with the non native ones, that solves @oldjeep 's wetlands problem. Your work on the ski area is just to control the invasive species.

 

@jayski Our cattails got so thick that they caused backwash and would break off into islands that would float around in the lake. A real PITA. An occasional trim from @Z_Dub and his fancy weed harvester might be useful.

 

Eric

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The Maumee River that I grew up skiing on has been completely overrun by Phragmites.

I was shocked when I went down to the river this summer. I can’t believe ODNR has let that happen. No cattails anywhere.

 

Michigan has had this problem longer than we have and all along the highways all you see are Phragmites.

 

These are 10-15’ tall with the plumes that carry the seeds to wherever in the wind.

 

 

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My cattails are actual cattails. But we commercially raised catfish for a while with minimal water flush. Add the nutrient load from the fish to some of the sunniest weather in the world and my cattails went crazy. No freezes or anything to slow their growth. Cattail islands floating in the lake were a real issue for me. As were the backwash rollers from the solid wall of cattails. I did get 20 years of great windbreak and backwash control from the cattails before they became a problem.

 

The phragmites I have are a native species. They aren't as tall as the invasive species (arundo is what the biologists were looking for) and few seed plumes. There is a spring fed green hill on the property that is completely covered in native phragmites. It has burned twice and within a few weeks they had returned - so I understand how difficult eradication or control could be. But cattails (and the invasive salt cedar tamarisk) out compete the phragmites (there are some established on the shoreline) around my lake.

 

Eric

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One of our ski club members took some video at the end of this season of our phragmite issue. You will see about 15 feet of phragmite encroachment along the shoreline and they extend another 3 - 4 feet into the water itself. The only good thing is that they were an effective wind block. But, we need to tackle them before they consume too much of the lake. Currently, they line about 2/3 of the shoreline.

 

We are considering our plan of attack for the Spring.

 

 

 

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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@dvskier, we don't have water moccasins here. Although, I'd sometimes trade the cold and cloudy conditions we do have for an additional pest or two. Seriously, we are in the top ten cloudiest areas in the United States. The Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan, really affect it.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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@MISkier Your video showed just how effective they are as a windblock. Brush hog them back near the waterline? Total eradication is probably futile. Management might work and preserve your windblock.

 

For such a healthy growth, they didn't grow too far out in your lake. Is that typical?

 

Eric

 

 

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@eleeski, I'm not sure what is typical. We've only been affected with them for the last 3 or 4 years at the one lake and I haven't seen them at any of our other lakes. It's really my first experience with them. But, this year, they have certainly been noticeable and we are concerned. They are starting to become a factor for shore judging some tournaments and allowing a place for skiers to swim in. But, the site did ski exceptionally well this year.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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Phrag eradication has some state funding in Michigan, it is an invasive species that chokes out the native species. Michigan is putting effort in to eradication programs with volunteer assistance and state funding for education and some chemical treatments solutions.
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@MISkier another idea to help with phragmites is to use goats. A relative of mine works for Draper City in Utah and they are effectively using goats in a wetlands area to clean up the invasive weeds. There is an article on Facebook about it. The link is too long to post here but if you look up Draper City, you should find the article posted on 1/2/2019.
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Goats will eat practically anything and will chew it right down to the roots. An excellent way to get rid of unwanted vegetation and no worries of disturbing water quality. We used them to take out a couple acres of Kudzu, a very invasive and hard to kill plant.
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A friend near Atlanta had the wooded area behind his house cleared out with goats. On top of doing a good job clearing it out, they were quite entertaining to watch.

 

Can you teach the goats to poop in a area that won't end up in the lake?

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Goat poop is more like Raisin Bran. Small lumps that easily degrade and due to the high fiber diet shouldn’t cause any issues. Just my opinion of course but I’ve skied in a lake surrounded by 100 head of black angus cattle with no ill effects 3 years later. The main thing is having water flow through the lake and not a stagnant pond.
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@MISkier I bought this after doing some research on Phragmites. My fellow lake owner wants to hold off using it and will use as a last resort. Trying to kill with 30% gardening vinegar with sea salt and dawn soap mixture then cutting and burning the piles. We definitely thinned them out but not completely gone after one summer. Will likely repeat again this year and see what’s left. Phragmites have taken over in NW Ohio along all highways and out in the Maumee River. I’m sure we are getting seeds blown into the lake from roadside ditches so a never ending battle from here.

 

https://lakerestoration.com/p-159-cattail-and-waterlily-control.aspx

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Thanks @A_B. I'll pass this info along to the lake owner. I don't think he has finalized his plan of attack yet.

 

Sometimes, I wonder if it wouldn't just be better to chlorinate the whole lake to near swimming pool levels. Seems like that would inhibit weed growth. You wouldn't have any fish, but the lake would be fairly clean.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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I also bought a backpack 4 gallon sprayer from Harbor Freight.

 

I’m thinking of trying some weed matting after we cut down to ground level. I may end up spraying the chemicals out in the roadside ditches to the west of our lake as they are probably reseeding what we are taking out. They have to be green for chemicals o work.

 

It seems like the Phragmites came in over night. Crazy growth rate.

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