Cattails blanketing Loring Pond Credit: Ben Johnson

Cattails blanketing Loring Pond Credit: Ben Johnson

Loring Park cattail removal begins

An ambitious effort to eradicate the invasive cattails blanketing much of Loring Pond has begun.

On Oct. 7 workers from Applied Ecological Services (AES) started hacking down cattails nearest to the shore with a saw attached to the front of an excavator.

“They are trying out some different equipment they haven’t used before, so they’re making some adjustments out in the field, but it looks like they’re making good progress,” said Deb Pilger, the Park Board’s director of environmental management. Park Board policy prohibits contractors from speaking directly with the press.

AES had to bring out ‘swamp mats’ – portable platforms that allow excavators to maneuver without getting stuck in the mud – to reach cattails further out in the pond. Eventually blades attached to small boats may be used to reach the cattails in the deepest reaches of the pond.

Pilger said it should take several weeks for AES to chop all of the cattails, and then several more weeks to rake them to the shore and haul them off to a composting facility. Work is scheduled to wrap up by the end of November.

The machine used to chop down the Loring Park cattails — photo courtesy of Minneapolis Park Board

Next spring the Park Board will go back out to Loring Pond and perform some combination of cutting, hand-pulling and herbicide application to stymie any new cattail growth, and over the summer it will plant native emergent vegetation in its place.

The following spring more planting of native species will continue along the shoreline to act as a buffer against resurgent cattails.

District 4 Commissioner Anita Tabb used $56,000 of her district’s discretionary funds to pay for the work this fall. Pilger estimated work next year would cost $250,000, which still has to be approved by the board.

In years past attempts to rid Loring Pond of cattails were limited by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which would not permit the removal of all of Loring’s cattails at once.

Last legislative session state Rep. Frank Hornstein and Sen. Scott Dibble sponsored a small provision in the state’s omnibus game and fish bill that explicitly directed the DNR to permit complete removal of cattails from Loring Pond.