Aquatic Plant Management


Dane County Aquatic Plant Harvesting Program


Dane County Land and Water Resources, through its Water Resource Engineering Division, manages an Aquatic Plant Harvesting Program for county waters, with support from the Dane County Office of Lakes and Watersheds and the Administration Division. Harvesting follows permit requirements from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and approved Aquatic Plant Management Plans for each waterbody.  

Each waterbody has a harvesting priority map that indicates potential cutting locations, as allowed by the permit.  Timing of harvest is determined by plant growth and a Dane County staff member (Water Resources Planner) who scouts out the potential, current cutting locations and anticipates future locations.  All harvesting of aquatic vegetation occurs in WDNR approved locations.

The county hires seasonal, limited-term employees to perform the harvesting. The supervised crews harvest aquatic plants from mid-May until mid-August using 11 mechanical harvesters and other harvesting equipment. The crews are guided by the Water Resources Planner.

Adhering to DNR requirements, the county's policy is to cut and harvest Eurasian water milfoil and other invasives to help provide for reasonable recreational use of the lakes for boating, fishing and swimming, and lake level management, while preserving the health and balance of the lake ecosystem. Also, aquatic plant cutting in the Yahara River is performed for flood mitigation.   Harvested plants are hauled by truck to remote compost sites.

Current plant harvester locations, harvesting priority maps, and other aquatic plant management information can be found on the  Dane County Water Resource Engineering website.



Plant Harvester

Aquatic Plant Management Plans


Aquatic plant management plans provide an inventory of existing plants in a lake or stream, and describe how native plants will be protected for their role as the foundation of healthy ecosystems, while nuisance non-native species will be controlled and recreational access will be provided. These plans are required by the Department of Natural Resources in order for them to permit aquatic plant harvesting programs under NR 109 Wis. Admin. Code.

The aquatic plant management plans below are the current plans for each waterbody, and were approved by the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Dane County staff and consultants surveyed aquatic plant communities during summer 2017 to learn how these plant communities have changed in the past five years.  They gathered data for each of approximately 7000 points on pre-determined sampling grids for the lakes being studied.  At each point, they recorded information such as plant species present, water depth, sediment type, and fullness of the sampling rake.  These survey results will help us assess lake health and prepare updates to several of the county aquatic plant management plans.  At two public information meetings held in early October, Dane County staff presented a summary of plant survey results, public comment received to date, and draft goals and recommendations to be included in the plan updates ( view a PDF of the presentation). Draft plan amendments are posted below, and public comment on these drafts will be accepted until December 8 via email to The final plan amendments are scheduled for approval by the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission at its December 21 meeting. 


Draft Plans

2017 Mendota plan and appendices

2017 Monona plan and appendices

2017 Wingra  plan and appendices

2017 Waubesa plan and appendices

2017 Kegonsa and Lower Mud Lake  plan and appendicies

2017 Yahara River and Upper Mud Lake  plan and appendices


Current Plans

Fish, Crystal, and Indian Lakes

2007 plan and  appendices

2013 plan amendment and  appendices

Lake Mendota

2007 plan and  appendices

2013 plan amendment and  appendices

Lake Monona

2011  plan and appendices

2013  plan amendment and  appendices

Lake Wingra

2007  plan and  appendices

2013  plan amendment and  appendices

Lake Waubesa

2011  plan and appendices

2013  plan amendment and  appendices

Lake Kegonsa and Lower Mud Lake

2007  plan and  appendices

2013  plan amendment and  appendices

Jenni and Kyle Preserve Ponds; Tenney, Vilas and Warner Park Lagoons; and Verona Quarry

2007  plan and appendices

2013  plan amendment and  appendices

Yahara River and Upper Mud Lake

2013  plan and  appendices


Land and Water Resources Department
staff Pete Jopke and Andrew Karleigh
recording data at sampling points

Survey crew

2017 Aquatic Plant Survey Crew (L-R):
Pete Jopke and Andrew Karleigh (Dane County),
Jim Scharl and Joey Berg
(Wisconsin Lake & Pond Resource LLC).


Research and Reports

Aquatic Plant Management Project in Turville Bay

Dane County, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the US Army Corps of Engineers completed the Turville Bay research project in 2013 and published the results as a fact sheet (PDF) and project report (PDF). This project evaluated the response of selective early-season herbicide application and cutting of aquatic plants on Turville Bay, the southwest area of Lake Monona, on Eurasian water milfoil, an invasive aquatic exotic plant) and on native plant communities. Find out more about Eurasian water milfoil on our invasive species page.