Every weekday from May to September, a cutter affixed to a barge is used by a village crew to harvest invasive plants from Bangs Lake in Wauconda.
This year, the village has collected 800 cubic yards -- which could fill about 80 six-wheel dump trucks -- of various plants that can hinder swimming, fishing, boating and other activities on the heavily used 300-acre glacial lake.
"It's huge," Village Administrator David Geary said. "It's an ongoing operation just to keep up with it."
That has been the preferred method for 25 years. But is it the best way to deal with Eurasian watermilfoil and other intruders? A large-scale dose of herbicides is one alternative. But what would that do to fish and other plants that need to be protected?
Invasive plants, fish stocking, water levels and channel conditions will be addressed in a five-year conservation plan to be crafted on behalf of the village for approval by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The village board during an informal work session Tuesday approved hiring Hey and Associates Inc. of Mundelein, one of five companies that submitted proposals to develop a lake management plan. The board at its Aug. 21 regular meeting is expected to officially approve Hey as the choice at a preliminary contract amount of $10,400.
"We don't have a lake management plan," said Jackie Soccorso, the village's director of environmental quality. "It will give the village board, when the time comes, some information to make a decision. It's kind of a menu of options."
The study would be funded with rebates the village receives from curbside recycling and electronics collections, which comes to about $8,000 a year and has a balance of about $33,000.
"We've been holding it for a good project," Geary said.
The plan also would address issues involving impact of the potential use of herbicides on state-listed endangered and threatened species in the lake. Harbors on the lake contain plant and fish species that need to be protected from any village actions that might cause them harm, according to Hey's proposal. The conservation plan would become the basis for state authorization of "incidental taking" of endangered fish species.
Hey also would determine what management activities are planned in future years by the village and the Bangs Lake Advisory Committee so potential impacts can be addressed in the conservation plan. That plan also will include an assessment of the habitat and "life requirements" of four endangered fish species.
Once written and approved, the plan would be an updated guide for future village decisions.
"It will outline proposals and ways to manage that will be preapproved by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources," Geary said. "It gives the board choices."
The plan could be complete next year, but state approval could take another seven months.