Monday, October 12, 2015

Carp Talk – Keeping Tabs on Carp in the Phalen Chain

Jordan Wein measures carp caught in Kohlman Lake box nets.
Photo credit: Anita Jader

By Bill Bartodziej

Over the last six years, we have made substantial progress in understanding the common carp population and ecology in the Phalen Chain of Lakes. We have learned that carp densities over 90 pounds per acre typically result in negative impacts to lake water quality. This has become our long-term carp management target. 

We also discovered that carp actively spawn in the main lakes, but bluegill sunfish consume most of their eggs. However, adult carp in small lakes, ponds, and connecting wetlands can be very successful in producing young carp if bluegill are absent. So if we want to keep carp at low levels in the main Chain of Lakes, we must turn to managing these small connected waters. 

We have located the key spawning areas that are connected to the Chain and have been actively working to eliminate the juvenile carp in these systems (e.g., Casey Lake, Markham Pond, Owasso Basin, and Kohlman Basin).
This map shows key targeted areas in the Phalen Chain where carp management
has been in progress in the past few years.

This year the Watershed District contracted with Carp Solutions, LLC, to conduct carp survey work in connecting ponds and small lakes and to trap adult carp in the main Chain of Lakes. District Natural Resources staff have been working closely with Dr. Przemek Bajer of Carp Solutions and his staff. This effort is progressing very nicely and the results have been encouraging.

Adult Carp Management

We will continue to reduce the adult population in the main Chain of Lakes over the next several years. At the beginning of this year, we estimated that there were 2,900 adult carp remaining in the Phalen Chain. Through summer box-netting (images below), we have been able to remove 500 carp to date. This is over 17% of the remaining adult carp population. Although this not glamorous work, summer box-netting has proven to be a very useful carp management tool. For the purpose of systematically reducing the carp population at a reasonable cost, this seems to be the most effective tool at this time.

Over the last several years, we have reduced the adult carp density by over 60 percent, from 158 pounds per acre to 55 pounds per acre (average biomass for Kohlman, Gervais and Keller Lakes). We are now well under our 90 pound per acre management goal. The captured carp are making their way to the Ramsey County Correctional Facility greenhouse where compost is being produced. A good portion of this compost material will be used to grow native plants at the nursery.

Cracked corn is used to attract carp into the box nets. Natural Resources Technician, Simba Blood,
and interns, Thea Evans (left) and Carrie Taylor (right), bait trap nets.

In addition to being an effective tool in carp removal, the box netting effort suggests that young carp are not common in the Phalen Chain. So far we have not captured a juvenile carp in the netting operation. All the fish have been big adults. These results support the idea that substantial carp recruitment (young fish moving into the adult population) has not taken place in 2014-15 in the main Chain of Lakes. This is very good news!

Herding captured carp into the corner of the box net for removal.

Keeping Tabs on the Nursery Areas

Trap nets were set to capture small fish in carp nursery areas in the northern part of watershed. Good news! No young carp were sampled in Markham Pond, Casey Lake and Willow Lake. Additionally, other survey work suggests the absence of adult carp in these systems. This confirms that we are making progress in effectively managing these systems and eliminating the threat of large numbers of juvenile carp moving into the Chain.

Trap nets set in Markham Pond. No carp were found.

Kohlman Basin Management

Kohlman Basin is a ponding and storm water treatment area that receives water from Willow and Kohlman Creeks; water exits and makes it way to Kohlman Lake. The main basin is located on the south side of Beam Avenue between Highway 61 and Hazelwood Street across from Costco. Previous survey work (Justine Koch’s thesis study, U of MN) suggested that there were a few hundred adult carp, and surprisingly, some gamefish in this Kohlman Basin system. 

The drawdown of Kohlman Basin, a wetland complex located along Beam Avenue in Maplewood.

This year, only one young carp was found in a small connecting wetland just to the north of Kohlman Basin (we did not survey for adults). Although only one juvenile carp was netted, this is an indication that carp are successfully reproducing in this system. Thus, this confirms the necessity to manage these systems to minimize the risk of a large year class of juvenile carp being produced.

Stephen Theis, RWMWD Natural Resources Intern,
sets up a net at Kohlman Basin outlet before the drawdown

On October 1st, watershed staff opened the outlet and began to draw down Kohlman Basin and the connecting wetlands to the north. Our main objective is to drain most of the water and then net carp in the remaining pool. We will preserve all the gamefish in the system. After our fall harvest, the outlet will be closed, and the basin will be filled before winter. We will certainly keep you updated on this carp management effort.

The drawdown of Kohlman Basin in progress. View is facing the outlet on the west side.

Keep your fingers crossed that the Kohlman Basin drawdown is successful. Rest assured our work with carp is not over yet. The Watershed District intends to comprehensively manage carp over the long-term in the Phalen Chain of Lakes. Stay tuned to your local dial for the next installment.

"Working on removing carp from the Phalen Chain of Lakes! This haul from Lake Gervais
was 46 adult carp, or as we prefer to think of it, 50 million future fish."

- Simba Blood, RWMWD Natural Resources Technician


“A scrapbook of carp photos isn’t complete without a shot of
Jordan Wein’s latest catch from a box net.”
   - Sage Passi

Welcome Cliff Aichinger back in a new role

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Cliff Aichinger to Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District’s (RWMWD) Board of Managers.

Appointed by the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, Cliff brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Board from his 40+ year career in environmental planning and watershed protection, including his 33 year role as RWMWD Administrator.

His impressive resume includes innovative project planning and execution, extensive writing, effective communication, countless leadership roles, personnel management, financial administration, and an all-around ability to get good things done. Welcome back, Cliff!

When asked about his new role, Cliff responded:
“Many of our readers know me already, but this is a new role with the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District. After almost a year into retirement and after the sudden resignation of long-standing Board member Paul Ellefson, I gave serious thought to possibly serving the District on the Board of Managers. I believe that my 43 years of land use, environmental and water resource planning and management experience, as well as my considerable experience with Boards and committees, will be strong assets for the District Board. I would like to assist the Board in continuing to improve the quality of our waters and related natural resources.

I strongly believe that Watershed Districts play a critical role in the protection and restoration of our waters and natural resources in collaboration with our member cities, local organizations and local and state agencies. There will be significant challenges to achieving District goals and I would like to assist in this effort. I look forward to serving the District in this new role.”

Friday, October 9, 2015

Summer Internship Reaps Huge Rewards

by Stephen Theis
My experience at the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District was fantastic. The staff here is very welcoming, knowledgeable, and always willing to help. Everyone also has a unique talent to offer in the field and I learned something new every day I was here.

I spent most of my time at Keller Golf Course maintaining the no-play areas, wetland buffers, prairie areas, and oak woodland remnants. I enjoyed this very much as it gave me the opportunity to observe these sites as they changed over the summer and the impact our work had on these areas. I believe that our work really helped to establish and improve these areas. I am happy for the amount of time I spent at these sites as it really allowed me to connect to the area and gave me a greater sense of involvement in the restoration project.

At the beginning of this internship I didn’t have a good grasp of native plant communities. I could not identify most plant species and didn’t know if they were native or invasive. As the internship progressed, my eyes began to open to the environment around me. I especially became aware of how common invasive plants are in the landscape. Now I am happy to say I recognize over one hundred plant species, and can appreciate the habitats that they prefer.

During this internship I was also given the opportunity to take tours and shadow many professionals in the office. This gave me an all-around view of watershed management and the projects that we are heading. From start to finish, I learned more during this internship than I have from any class I have taken. I am very thankful to have been able to finish up my biology degree in this way.

Groundwater Conservation - Tales of Two Cities

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports the communities pumping water from the Prairie du Chien/Jordan Aquifer, may need a new water source in twenty years if water usage continues at its current pace.

Several communities in this region – spanning all of Washington County, and parts of Ramsey and Anoka counties – pump water from the Prairie du Chien/Jordan Aquifer, an underground layer of rock that holds water. The DNR has determined the amount of water in the aquifer is declining and is making groundwater conservation and management a top priority. The DNR is developing a groundwater management area for the region to assist in managing sustainable appropriations from the aquifer.
Woodbury and Shoreview are using different approaches to encourage groundwater conservation.

When can you water your lawn in Woodbury?

To encourage conservation and prevent excessive use of water, the Woodbury City Council has adopted a lawn watering policy that features an odd/even watering schedule, as well as a ban on watering between noon and 5 PM each day. Residents who have even-numbered houses may water lawns on even-numbered calendar days; residents with odd-numbered homes may water on odd-numbered days.

The odd/even schedule is in effect year-round, not just in the summer. Automatic sprinkling systems must be set to comply with both the odd/even schedule and the hours of the day when lawn watering is permitted. The watering policy applies only to lawn watering. There are no restrictions on filling pools or washing cars. Watering of shrubs, flowers or other landscaping vegetation is permitted on a property's non-watering day when done by hand and the watering device is personally tended. However, all landscape watering is prohibited between noon and 5 p.m. each day.

Here’s a link to a lively music video on Woodbury’s website that encourages citizens to adopt this approach to conserving water. 
Shut it Off! A music video from Woodbury . For more information, visit the City of Woodbury's water conservation webpage.

Does your automatic sprinkler turn on even if it's pouring rain? You can prevent that!

Rain sensors are now required on all newly installed sprinkler systems in Woodbury as stated by Minnesota Statute 103G.298 - Landscape Irrigation Systems.

A rain sensor detects when it's raining and shuts off the sprinkler system. They also reduce wear on your irrigation system because it runs only when necessary. Sensors can be purchased from some home improvement stores or from your lawn sprinkler service company. The cost for parts is between $40 and $100. There is an additional charge if professional installation is needed.

The savings in water charges from the use of a rain sensor could pay for its cost in the first season. It's estimated that a rain sensor will save at least 1,225 gallons of irrigation water per household on every rainy day. If a household is in the second tier of water rates ($1.88 per thousand gallons per quarter), the savings is $2.30 per watering event when the rain sensor senses adequate moisture.

Batteries in your rain/moisture sensor should be replaced regularly to ensure proper operation.

If you would like more information about rain sensors, contact your sprinkler supplier, home improvement store, or the Woodbury Public Works Department at 651-714-3720 or email publicworks[at]  *

Attention Shoreview Residents!

Know your Flow to Reduce your Use

How much water do you use on a yearly basis - on a monthly basis - on a weekly basis? Do you know the answers to these questions? Would you like to? If you could know how much water you were using, would it change your behavior?

Shoreview has a history of supporting environmental sustainability and has been a leader in water conservation efforts. Through a grant awarded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, the City has an opportunity to take these efforts one step further through a new Community Water Conservation Program.

Neva Widner, Natural Resources Specialist from Shoreview, asked us to pass along this announcement.

The City of Shoreview is looking for volunteers to participate in a two-year water conservation program. This is an easy, new program for residents that can help them reduce water consumption and lower their water bills. Participants will receive a free wireless meter to use in their home which will allow the City to share water use data more frequently and give residents a real-time look into their water consumption.

Volunteers must be Shoreview residents currently living in single family homes. Volunteers simply need to keep the wireless meter in their homes during the two-year program. Volunteers will receive biweekly water usage data, period information from the City regarding program details, and water conservation tips.

Visit the City's website for more information or to sign up as a volunteer.

You can also contact Neva Widner at 651-490-4665 or nwidner[at]*

*  Use the @ symbol in place of [at] for email addresses.  We write it this way so spambots are less likely to detect addresses.