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Environment

Invasive Plant Threatens Iconic Blue Heart Springs

ewm_in_hayden_lake.jpg
ISDA
This photo of what Eurasian watermilfoil can do to a boat propeller is from Hayden Lake.

You can find Blue Heart Springs near Box Canyon on the Snake River between Hagerman and Buhl. It’s a hidden oasis and you can’t get there in a car — you have to boat or kayak in. Blue Heart lives up to its name: It’s shaped like a heart and the water is a breathtakingly clear blue. But that color, and the spring itself, are now under threat from an invasive plant.

The Idaho Department of Agriculture recently found Eurasian watermilfoil in Blue Heart. It’s an invasive aquatic species with red stems and leaves that look like bird feathers. It spreads quickly and forms thick mats in shallow water, choking off native plants and blocking sunlight for underwater species. The mats also clog boat propellers and make swimming impossible. The Department hasn’t said how the plant got into the water.

If it moves unchecked through Blue Heart, it could turn the iconic water green.

Specially trained staff now must carefully pull out the plants, without leaving any pieces behind because a single fragment will grow roots and quickly become a whole new plant. Work will start work later this spring when the plants have new growth, in hopes of getting all them out of Blue Heart Springs.

The Ag Department is asking visitors not to disturb the plants to help contain the spread.

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