Amy Schrank to present 'Are Invasive Cattails Taking Over Your Lake?'

May 12—BEMIDJI — Itasca Waters' free online Water Wisdom series continues at noon on Thursday, June 1, featuring Amy Schrank presenting "Are Invasive Cattails Taking Over Your Lake?"

Schrank will talk about how invasive narrow-leaf and hybrid cattails are overtaking diverse nearshore plant communities and altering the habitat. They form dense, homogenous stands of cattails that reduce dissolved oxygen, displace native vegetation, and have detrimental effects on fish.

"Do we take it for granted that it will persist in its current state or do we fear water quality is declining here as elsewhere in Minnesota?" Schrank said in a release. "Water quality in most of the state has now degraded to the point that the water is not always safe to swim in, much less being able to see our feet when water is waist-high."

In southern Minnesota, water was once clean and healthy. Over time, agriculture and land use practices have detrimentally damaged the quality by depleting the oxygen. The culprits are phosphorus and the loss of vegetation. The root systems of native prairie plants and trees provide nature's filtering system. That keeps the phosphorus in the water at a reasonable level.

Only one pound of phosphorus will grow 500 pounds of algae which consumes oxygen and prevents organism's ability to respire. That's why it's such an important issue for water quality.

All watersheds need 70% vegetated land to do a good job of filtering water.

"Look at the land you live on. Is the land 70% covered with vegetation? Lawn grass does not count — it only has a 2-3 inch root system and does not provide the filtering mechanism needed to prevent water quality degradation," the release said. "Native plants have deep root systems that function as water purifiers. We need to think about buffering shorelines with native plants, slowing down the water flow off roofs, planting pollinators, and reducing both mowing and fertilizing.

"By paying attention to our own land, we will enhance the water quality in the watershed. If there is a concentrated effort by all of us to buffer and slow water the effects of development are reduced."

To aid in the process, Itasca Waters has citizen volunteers that will make house calls to assist with scoring shorelines and helping restore or enhance the filtering system outside locally. Itasca Waters refers to this program as the Shoreland Advisors program.

Those interested can reach an advisor by going to

Enjoying the lake experience is second nature to us and maintaining the natural filtering system is critical for continued enjoyment.

"Keep in mind that water quality is fragile and once damaged is expensive and nearly impossible to fix," the release said. "Water is an extremely important economic asset to Itasca County that we all cherish. Do what you can on your land to make a positive impact."

Registering for the June 1 webinar by visiting

Once registered you will receive a Zoom invite by email to join the program. For more information, contact

The Practical Water Wisdom series is the brainchild of Itasca Waters, a nonprofit organization located in Itasca County whose mission is to 'team up' with other organizations and concerned citizens to maintain abundant, clean water for our continued health, enjoyment, and a strong economy.