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Invasive Plants and Agricultural Pest Management

Welcome to Alaska's Invasive Plant Program. Our program coordinates prevention, outreach and management strategies for invasive plant issues through collaboration with land managers, agencies, organizations and policy makers across Alaska. These efforts are guided by the implementation of our Strategic Plan and relevant noxious weed regulations and policies. Our goal is to help keep Alaska's pristine landscapes and natural resources free from impacts of noxious and invasive plants.

PMC Programs

 

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5310 S Bodenburg Spur
Palmer, AK 99645
Phone: 907-745-4469
Fax: 907-746-1568

Mon. - Fri.
8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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Waterweed (Elodea spp.)

ElodeaAK Natural Heritage Program Invasiveness Ranking: 79

Until recently, Alaska has been considered free of invasive submerged aquatic plants that greatly impact freshwater resources in other areas of the world where they are not native. The discovery of elodea in Chena Slough in Fairbanks in 2010 drew attention to an established population in the Eyak Lake and led to the discovery of elodea in other waterbodies near population centers in four regions of the state. If elodea continues to spread, the less control we will have over the outcome of Alaskan freshwaters; threatening biodiversity and costing our citizens.

  • Biology
  • Impact
  • Distribution
  • Taking Action
  • Resources

Elodea is an underwater perennial plant that sometimes forms tangled masses in lakes, ponds, and ditches with long, trailing stems and green, somewhat translucent leaves. Elodea primarily reproduces by stem fragmentation and rarely by seed. Broken plant fragments can root to form new plants. Elodea prefers cool, clear, slow waters with silty bottoms. It is a hardy perennial that does not fully die back and can survive harsh winters under ice.

    Elodea can:
  • •Form new plants from broken segments.

  • •Survive when frozen in ice and travel long distances downstream.

elodea on a boat    elodea on a paddle   

Identifying Characteristics:

    Individual plants can vary, depending on growing conditions; some are bushy and robust, others look stringier with weak stems and few leaves. Long, trailing stems can be seen in tangled masses when elodea is well established. Individual plant fragments can also be seen floating on the water's surface.

  • • Leaves in whorls of 3 or occasionally 4.

  • • Leaves are 1/4-1/2" long & 1/8" wide.

  • • Stem is a lighter green than the leaves and grow in a tangled mass.
elodea stem               single elodea

Elodea is not native to Alaska, and it is the first invasive freshwater aquatic plant known here. It has the potential to impact freshwater resources and fish habitat statewide.

  • • Degrades fish habitat and displaces native flora and fauna.

  • • Makes boat travel difficult and reduces recreation opportunities.

  • • Fouls float plane rudders.

  • • Alters freshwater habitats by decreasing flow & increasing sedimentation.

  • • Reduces value of waterfront property and may financially impact businesses associated with water related activities.

Elodea can form dense mats as seen here in 2013 in Sand Lake.

thick elodea

monoculture

Though first documented in 1982 in Eyak Lake, Cordova, land managers did not take notice of this plant until 2010, when it was found growing aggressively in Chena Slough near Fairbanks. Since 2010, elodea has been found in four regions of the state (see map below) and additional surveys are on-going. Elodea can spread to new locations and waterbodies through tiny plant fragments carried by float planes, boats, trailers, aquariums, and other equipment.

Known Elodea Infestations

Interior

  • Chena Lake
  • Chena Slough
  • Chena River
  • Totchaket Slough
  • Bathing Beauty Pond
  • Birch Lake
  • Manley Slough
  • Harding Lake
  • Chisolm Lake
  • Eielson AFB
  • Moose Lake
  • Polaris Lake
  • Pike Lake
  • Hidden Lake
  • Scout Lake
  • Grayling Lake
  • 28-mile pond
  • Mullins Pit
  • South Central
  • Alexander Lake
  • Sucker Lake
  • Jewel Lake
  • Little Survival Creek
  • Big Lake
  • Kenai Peninsula

  • Sandpiper Lake
  • Copper River Delta
  • Eyak Lake
  • Alaganik Slough
  • McKinley Lake
  • Martin Lakes
  • Eyak River
  • Bering Lake
  • Wooded Pond
  • Wrong Way Pond
  • Previously Infested Waters

  • South Central
  • Lake Hood
  • Little Campbell Lake
  • Sand Lake
  • Delong Lake
  • Kenai Peninsula
  • Stormy Lake
  • Sports Lake
  • Daniels Lake
  • Beck Lake
  • Hilda Lake
  • Seppu Lake
  • Elodea Around the World

    Elodea has a long history as an invasive plant. It was introduced to Great Britain over a century ago, and has since spread to Scandinavia and across Russia to Lake Baikal.

    Whether you are boating, fishing, flying or recreating, there are steps you can take to help prevent the spread of elodea. See our resources tab for more information.

    clean drain dry

    CLEAN - Remove all visible mud, plants, fish/animals from equipment.

    DRAIN - Eliminate water from all equipment before transporting.
                  Much of the recreational equipment we use can collect water
                  and harbor hitchhikers.

        DRY - Clean and dry anything that came in contact with water. Use hot (140ºF) or
                  salt water if possible, allow 5 days to dry before entering new waters.

    • Never release plants, water, fish or animals into a body of water unless they
       came from that water body.
    • Aquarium plants and animals may be able to survive in our Alaskan waters!
    • Dispose of aquariums responsibly, not by dumping them into waterways.

      If you find elodea:
    • • Note its location: GPS coordinates and/or a mark on a map with a descritpion of the site.

    • • Note its habitat: Did you find it in a river or lake? How deep was the water? Was the water clear or slightly muddy?

    • • Take a specimen: At a minimum, take a photo. Take as much of the entire plant as you can, including the flower, if present. Put it in a zip-lock bag and store it in a cool place. If you don't have a bag, press it in a book or inside wax paper and keep it somewhere safe so it doesn't break apart. Aquatic plants dry quickly.

    • • Report it: Call the Invasive Species hotline below to report it!

    REPORT IT!

    1-877-INVASIV (468-2748)
    or contact Dan Coleman
    Invasive Weeds and Agricultural Pest Coordinator
    907-745-8721

    Email daniel.coleman 'at' alaska.gov

    stop aquatic hitchikers