Jan 22

Ecozone

Ecozone Primary Purposes

The primary purposes for establishing these boating restricted zones (ecozone) are as follows:

  • To protect the Ball Wetlands’ vegetation from further decline.
  • To address public safety issues in the boating channel between the lakes and in shallow water.
  • To make the boating restricted zones enforceable by clearly marking them so that law enforcement and boaters do not have to guess about the location of the legal shoreline.
  • To create the opportunity for restoration of both emergent and submerged native aquatic plants, particularly in The Flats area, either naturally or by restoration projects.

The Ecozone – What Is It & What Will It Do?

The restricted boating zones would protect existing wetland vegetation and provide opportunity for re-vegetation of shallow areas. Specifically the rule proposed and approved by the Natural Resources Commission on March 18, 2008 includes the following:

  • James Lake (Little Tippy) – 200 foot idle zone along the Ball Wetlands from the perceived shoreline.
  • Creation of true & enforceable idle zones for the channel between Lake Tippecanoe and James Lake, and for Grassy Creek from Lake Tippecanoe to the Barbee dam.
  • “Flats area” on the East end of Lake Tippecanoe – 500 foot zone from the perceived shoreline to create a non-motorized traffic area with the exception of trolling motors.
  • A sunset clause of 5 years.

What It Will Do – The Ecozone is being established for the Protection & Restoration of our Wetlands (and Water Quality), as well as for Public Safety

Excerpt from the Natural Resources Commission Hearing Documents – March 18, 2008

The DNR’s Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) program first became involved with Lake Tippecanoe with the completion of the Lake Tippecanoe Diagnostic Study (1997). That study, along with another LARE-funded report, Lake Tippecanoe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan Update (2006) recommended the creation of restricted boating zones. The purposes of the zones were for the protection of aquatic plants and to reduce re-suspension of bottom sediments from boating activity. These efforts were to address improving water quality and to reduce algae production in the lake. These studies as well as the Upper Tippecanoe River Watershed Management Plan (2006) recognized that there are many other sources and reasons for water quality and algae problems than just the decline of emergent vegetation in the lakes.

There is an indirect connection between declining water quality and nuisance algae production and the decline in emergent vegetation. Desirable emergent plants utilize nutrients that otherwise would be available to algae and invasive plant species. Desirable emergent plants usually occupy shallow areas outside of normal boating activities. They reduce the power of waves to stir up sediments and erode the shoreline and they hold the sediments in place as well as trap new sediments that may flow from riparian areas. This vegetation is also very important to many aquatic associated wildlife species. It is very important for proper ecological functioning of a lake for a substantial portion of the lake’s shoreline and shallow areas to contain desirable emergent plants.

Creating these restricted boating zones around the Ball Wetlands may not in itself result in noticeable improvements in water quality or reductions in nuisance algae. However, the zones are an important part of addressing the many issues identified in the above studies that impact water quality and algal production in the lakes.

The impact power boating can have on emergent vegetation, stirring up bottom sediments and reintroducing nutrients to the water column, has been well documented (Asplund 2000, Beachler 2003, White 2003). Also, it is common knowledge that these impacts occur when high speed boating occurs in shallow water. Much of the proposed restricted boating area is already under idle speed restrictions (IC 14-15-3-16). This law requires idle speed within 200 feet of the lake’s legal shoreline. The problem with the Ball Wetlands is that most of the legal shoreline is well within the wetlands thus making it legal for watercraft to actually travel within the wetlands at unlimited speed.

The proposed restricted zones are established from the perceived shoreline, or the edge of the emergent vegetation beds, to make it clear to the public and law enforcement where the zone boundaries are. This addresses public safety issues of congested boat traffic in and around the Between the Lakes channel and the Grassy Creek channel as well as shallow water boating in The Flats area. It also protects the Ball Wetlands by keeping high speed boating a reasonable distance away from the wetlands. Assuming that most boaters are observing idle speeds within 200 feet of the actual and perceived shoreline, the actual additional open water that is added by the new restricted zone is about 17 acres and about half of that is water less than 5 feet deep.

Establishing a 500 foot trolling motor only zone in The Flats area creates the opportunity for re-colonization of the emergent vegetation in the shallow water areas either naturally or through restoration activities. However, it should be understood the main ecological reason for the ecozones is to protect the Ball Wetland from further decline. Currently there is generally an absence of any kind of native aquatic vegetation in The Flats area. Re-colonization of the area by rooted native submerged plants will also provide many ecological benefits and should be viewed as a successful attribute of establishing the protected zone.

The purposes for establishing the ecozone need to be clearly understood so that public expectations and measures of success can be established to effectively address the proposed sunset provision of the rule.

 

DNR Ecozone Brochure
DNR Ecozone Brochure
DNR Ecozone brochure revised 4-4-07.pdf
Version: Revised 4-4-07
202.7 KiB
442 Downloads
Details
Ecozone NRC Min 01-22-08
Ecozone NRC Min 01-22-08
Ecozone NRC Min 01-22-08.pdf
103.0 KiB
444 Downloads
Details
Ecozone NRC Min 03-18-08
Ecozone NRC Min 03-18-08
Ecozone NRC Min 03-18-08.pdf
120.4 KiB
440 Downloads
Details
Ecozone NRC Mtg 01-22-08
Ecozone NRC Mtg 01-22-08
Ecozone NRC Mtg 01-22-08.pdf
273.5 KiB
567 Downloads
Details
Ecozone NRC Mtg 03-18-08
Ecozone NRC Mtg 03-18-08
Ecozone NRC Mtg 03-18-08.pdf
781.5 KiB
454 Downloads
Details
Ecozone Petition
Ecozone Petition
Ecozone Petition.pdf
Version: 06/27/07
686.0 KiB
534 Downloads
Details
Lake Tippecanoe LARE Ecozone Feasibility Study
Lake Tippecanoe LARE Ecozone Feasibility Study
Ecozone LARE Feasibility Study Rev1-2-08.pdf
Version: Rev1-2-08
3.8 MiB
525 Downloads
Details

Permanent link to this article: http://ltpo.org/ecozone/