A new colony of an aquatic invasive species was recently discovered in Holland Lake.
Fragrant water lily was found by Forest Service workers in a few shallow bays of the lake in the lower Swan Valley. Fragrant water lily can spread rapidly and form dense mats that crowd out native plants and harm swimming beaches.
The plant was first observed at the boat ramp.
“Last summer I observed one or two plants but wasn’t entirely sure which species this was. Now we have about 300 plants. This is a rapid invasion.” said Beth Gardner, fisheries biologist for the Flathead National Forest, Swan Lake Ranger District. Gardner speculates the plant was accidentally introduced by a boat or kayak that was previously in Seeley Lake or Placid Lake. These lakes are infested with fragrant water lily and about 18 miles away. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks remind all watercraft users to “clean, drain, and dry”.
Fragrant water lily can spread by seed or small fragments of roots. It is from eastern United States. The plant has white flowers with more than 25 petals. Water lily species native to Montana have yellow flowers and fewer petals. The native species do not cause harm.
Last week, Forest Service personnel and volunteers with Swan Valley Connections began to eradicate the plant by hand pulling the leaves and flowers. Approximately 200 pounds of water lily leaves have been removed to date.
On Sept. 9, from 1 to 5 p.m., Swan Valley Connections will host a volunteer opportunity. Volunteers who could assist with hand removal are asked to contact Rob Rich at Swan Valley Connections at 406-754-3137.
All water users in Holland Lake are asked to be especially careful they do not spread the fragrant water lily any further.