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Zebra mussels at Shadow Lake

Water shoes recommended

By Angie Landsverk

Those who head to South Park this summer for a swim are encouraged to put on water shoes before they go in Shadow Lake.

That is because city lifeguards are finding zebra mussels in the lake’s shallow water.

“We recommend people wear water shoes at the beach,” said Jackie Barrett.

Barrett supervises the city’s lifeguards and said this is the first year they have found them in this part of the lake.

“They are raking them out every morning,” she said. “They are trained to remove them.”

Closed toe water shoes – the type that completely cover the foot – are recommended, so the zebra mussels do not get caught anywhere in the shoe.

Last summer, a city resident discovered zebra mussels on the anchor of the mooring buoy for her kayak.

City officials then learned lifeguards had been scraping them off the diving dock area and disposing of them in the garbage.

They had not been aware zebra mussels was what they were scraping off the dock. They were correct to disposing of them by throwing them in the garbage.

Native to lakes in southern Russia, zebra mussels were first found in Wisconsin in 1990.

They are one-fourth to 1 1/2 inches long.

Their shells are very sharp, which may cause cuts when people step on them.

Zebra mussels clog water supply lines and attach to motors and docks.

They filter tiny food particles out of the water, reducing the available food for larval fish and other animals.

Zebra mussels also attach to and smother native mussels.

The invasive specie prefers sandy, rocky lakebed.

Zebra mussels have growth rings like trees. The zebra mussels recently found in the shallow part of Shadow Lake appear to be about 5 years old.

The fact that zebra mussels are now being found in the lake’s shallow water was brought up Friday, June 9, during a review of aquatic invasive plants with the lifeguard staff.

Amy Thorstenson, executive director of Golden Sands Resource Conservation and Development Council, was at the beach to show the lifeguards what Curly Leaf Pondweed and Eurasian Milfoil and demonstrate how to pull it from the lake.

The council is dedicated to preserving natural recourses and designs and manages programs throughout Central Wisconsin.

That includes teaching lake users how to maintain water quality and control the spread of invasive species.

Curly Leaf Pondweed and Eurasian Milfoil are two invasives found in the lake.

Lifeguards, as well as divers, help remove them from the lake each year.

“When you come driving into town, you see this beautiful, glistening lake,” Thorstenson said. “It belongs to the community.”

If invasives are not controlled, they will take over other natives plants, changing the environment of the lake, she said.

The Friends of Mirror Shadow Lakes monitors the two lakes and appreciates the assistance it receives from the lifeguards in pulling invasives from Shadow Lake.

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