Chapter 2 - Getting Started

Organization Is Key

You are probably reading this manual because you are concerned about an aquatic-plant problem in your favorite lake or river. Others may share the same perception of an aquatic-plant nuisance. The first step in managing aquatic plants is to get organized. Begin by talking with your neighbors to determine if they have shared concerns about your water body.

The next step is to gather together a core group to talk more about the problem. The gathering might be an informal one, such as a potluck picnic or barbecue, where concerns about aquatic plant problems can be discussed at more length. Important questions that will need to be considered include:

  • Is there an aquatic plant problem?
  • What is the problem?
  • Should anything be done about it?
  • Should a community group be formed to address the problems?
  • Who will participate in the planning process?
lake meeting

The core group can then plan to meet with the larger lake community to share their concerns in a more formal setting. Posting a notice on the community bulletin-board or in a newsletter, or sending out a one-page flier are simple ways to notify the neighborhood of the location and intent of such a gathering. Often, newspapers are willing to publish a short article for folks organizing neighborhood meetings.

The Steering Committee

With the approval of the larger community, a small steering committee should be formed, headed by one or two key individuals. The steering committee should represent the larger community throughout the planning process. This group will be responsible for completing the steps in this manual. It will be important for the steering committee to remain in touch with the community to share information and allow for participation of all interested individuals in the planning process. This contact can occur through newsletters or scheduled public meetings and board meetings open to the public.

To begin the process of "learning more about it", the committee should start to assemble available background information on the topic of aquatic plant management. Your first contact should be with staff from Ecology's Freshwater Aquatic Weeds Management Program.

The steering committee should also collect any existing information on their project area. Past studies or reports can be useful, such as diagnostic investigations called "Phase I" studies, or Reconnaissance Lake Data Reports by the U.S. Geological Survey and Ecology. These reports usually include an aerial photo and depth contour map of the water body.

TIP: Other lake associations with established aquatic plant management programs can be contacted to find out about their control experiences (for a directory of Washington lake associations, contact Washington Water Research Center, Washington State University, 509-335-5531).

Planning Steps Summarized

Supplied with this background information, the steering committee should begin to assess the aquatic plant problem and the need for action by completing the steps described in Chapter 3-13 of this manual. The planning process consists of two phases:

  • Phase I (Problem/Site Description)
  • Phase II (Control Strategies Development)

Phase I involves collecting information about aquatic plants and other features of your project area.

  • (Step A) Develop Problem Statement

    This step involves developing a realistic problem statement describing limitations on beneficial uses of water body.

  • (Step B) Identify Management Goals

    This step identifies reasonable management goals that maximize beneficial uses yet are compatible with water body's capacity to sustain those uses.

  • (Step C) Involve the Public

    This step offers guidance in bringing the community into the planning process.

  • (Step D) Identify Water Body/Watershed Features

    This step investigates background characteristics of the water body together with its watershed to understand the whole system.

  • (Step E) Identify Beneficial Uses

    This step focuses on identifying beneficial use areas of water body in a Waterbody Use Map.

  • (Step F) Map Aquatic Plants

    This step outlines how to perform an aquatic plant survey to identify and map general plant types in a water body.

  • (Step G) Characterize Aquatic Plants

    This step translates survey data into a description of beneficial and problem plant zones in a water body.

Phase II investigates aquatic plant control strategies and applies Phase I results to fine-tune a specific plan through the following steps:

  • (Step H) Investigate Control Alternatives

    This step investigates available control options in terms of effectiveness, advantages, drawbacks, costs, permits and site specific factors.

  • (Step I) Specify Control Intensity

    This step matches up control intensity with appropriate plant zones in a water body, producing a Control Intensity Map.

  • (Step J) Choose Integrated Treatment Scenario

    This step identifies critical factors for choosing the combination of controls that best meets the goals of long-term management with the least impacts to the environment.

  • (Step K) Develop Action Program

    The final step takes information from preceding steps to formulate a long-term action plan for management of aquatic plants.

For simplicity, the steps are presented in a recommended order. For some water bodies, having information from prior investigations might provide shortcuts through a few of the steps. Certain steps can be covered more generally for water bodies with simpler problems compared to those with more complex matters. Also, as you move through the planning process and more complete information becomes available on your water body, you may need to revisit earlier steps. For instance, you may find it necessary to redefine the original problem statement (Step A) or your initial management goals (Step B). At the end of this chapter, a checklist is provided to help you track your progress through the planning process.

Plan Checklist

( ) Step A - Develop Problem Statement (Chapter 3)
( ) Step B - Identify Management Goals (Chapter 4)
( ) Step C - Involve The Public (Chapter 5)
( ) Step D - Identify Water Body/Watershed Features (Chapter 6)
( ) Step E - Identify Beneficial Use Areas (Chapter 7)
( ) Step F - Map Aquatic Plants (Chapter 8)
( ) Step G - Characterize Aquatic Plants (Chapter 9)
Checkpoint! New Information - Do you need to redefine your problem statement and/or goals?

Go back to Step A or B
Next go to Step C
Finally, continue to Step H
Go to Step H
( ) Step H - Investigate Control Alternatives (Chapter 10)
( ) Step I - Specify Control Intensity (Chapter 11)
( ) Step J - Choose Integrated Treatment Scenario (Chapter 12)
Checkpoint! Update community on recommended scenario.

Go to Step C
Next Go to Step K
( ) Step K - Develop Action Program (Chapter 13)

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