OAKLAND — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday it is taking a closer look at an invasive aquatic plant in Deep Creek Lake that some area residents say could strangle the boating opportunities that make the mountain reservoir a tourist magnet.
Agency officials said at a public meeting that they will assess the distribution of Eurasian water milfoil across the entire lake over the next year and advise property owners on how to limit its effects.
“We realize that there’s been a lot of a lot of concern over the last year. People are complaining that it’s exploding over the lake,” said Bruce D. Michael, director of resource assessment.
The weed, called EWM for short, is a green, leafy plant with long, slender stalks. It grows in water up to 20 feet deep and forms dense mats that can entangle swimmers and hinder boats. It first arrived in Wisconsin in the 1960s and has become a nuisance nationwide.
Michael said EWM is found in virtually all Maryland lakes and the Chesapeake Bay but it only becomes a problem when it overruns other types of aquatic vegetation.
When that happens, Michael said, “there is no easy answer. We’re not going to be able to eradicate it.”
Some states have used herbicides to control EWM, and Wisconsin is experimenting with a bug, the milfoil weevil, that eats it.
DNR Secretary John Griffin warned that introducing one non-native species to control another can be a mistake.
“It’s important to avoid the history of precipitous introduction of things because of the law of unintended consequences,” he said. “History is replete with quick action to respond to a problem which ends up creating a much bigger problem down the line.”
Michael said a survey of six coves — a relatively small number — showed no expansion of EWM from 2010 to 2011.
He also said that 60 percent of the lake is too deep for EWM to thrive.