Through cooperative efforts with the MN DNR, the 14 Lake Minnetonka communities and private citizens around the lake, the LMCD has been managing the growth of EWM on Lake Minnetonka since 1989. Generous donations were received from private residents around the lake for the initial purchase of harvesting equipment, which has been replaced in the 2000′s. The LMCD currently operates three paddlewheel harvesters and a transport barge purchased in 2003. The three paddlewheel harvesters were purchased prior to the 2003, 2005 and 2012 seasons.
The harvesting season generally runs from mid-June through mid-August. The LMCD hires seasonal employees to perform the harvesting. The harvesters cut the EWM approximately five to six feet below the water surface and then removes it from the lake on to the harvester. EWM removed from the lake is disposed of at various compost sites located in the area.
Harvesting priorities are based upon impediment to boat navigation on the open water, with higher priority given to areas of the lake that are matted. The main focus is to provide watercraft navigation from docks to open water. Although there are some areas of the lake with significant milfoil growth that is not aesthetically pleasing, the LMCD cannot harvest them unless they are impeding boat navigation in compliance with the permit that is obtained from the MN DNR for aquatic plant management.
A combination of clear-cutting and channel-cutting is utilized to address harvesting priorities depending on the location and density of docks in the area. There is a high emphasis on tandem cutting when possible to minimize EWM fragments. Annually, all areas that dictate the need for harvesting are cut at least once, with high growth areas harvested twice as time permits.
The harvesting program utilizes a rotating schedule to ensure equitable harvesting throughout the Lake. This is to ensure the progression around the Lake varies year to year. The crew can deter from this schedule for extenuating circumstances but tries to adhere to it as much as possible.