4.2 Ecological Integrity

Goal 2 - Ecological Integrity

Promote activities that maintain, support and enhance floral, faunal quantity and ecological integrity of upland and aquatic resources throughout the watershed.

Discussion

The Dutch Lake subwatershed is notable for its ecological resources and large tracts of minimally developed area, including wetlands, forests, and grasslands.  Nearly all the subwatershed is located in an MCWD, local or regional conservation corridor.  There is great potential for linking Dutch Lake and high-value wetlands within this subwatershed with other high ecological value lands inside and outside the subwatershed.

Connected corridors are desirable as they provide a variety of habitats both aquatic and terrestrial as well as protected areas for passage.  Within these conservation areas wherever possible the District would promote the preservation or establishment of native vegetation to increase or maintain infiltration rates; decrease or maintain runoff rates and pollutant conveyance to water resources; and minimize erosion of shorelines and streambanks.   Sustaining or improving water quality and ecological integrity is necessary to meet the District goals in this plan as well as to meet state and federal nondegradation, water quality and biological integrity requirements and to prevent the need for future TMDLs.

Dutch Lake itself is a primary ecological resource.  The primary strategies for improving aquatic communities are the acquisition of new data such as vegetation surveys and management plans, and improvement of water quality.  The several wetlands in the subwatershed with exceptional or high vegetative diversity would be inspected at least annually for invasive vegetative species.

Desired Outcomes: Functional and healthy ecological corridors and waters throughout the subwatershed.

Metrics:   

  • Acres of land conserved in Key Conservation Areas
  • Acres of restored/created wetland within Key Conservation Areas
  • Linear feet of shoreline protected in Key Conservation Areas
  • Linear feet and width of riparian areas protected in Key Conservation Areas

Goal 2.1 - Dutch Lake

Maintain and improve overall ecological integrity within the subwatershed.

Actions

  1. Continue Land Conservation Program efforts to proactively seek out conservation opportunities identified in this plan as District priority areas.
  2. Protect existing fish and wildlife habitat and promote the improvement of habitat and corridors by the conservation of key ecological areas (see Figure 19). 
    1. Require LGUs to recognize Key Conservation Areas in their natural resources and land use planning and to identify in their Local Water Management plans how they intend to conserve their ecological values.
    2. Provide education and training opportunities, technical and planning assistance, and financial incentives to LGUs to actively conserve key ecological areas.
    3. Work cooperatively with other agencies and organizations to improve upon existing conservation corridors and where practical, develop new conservation corridors that connect wetlands within the Dutch Lake subwatershed of exceptional or high wetland functions and values with areas that have been identified by others as having high local, county or regional ecological significance.
  1. Identify keystone, umbrella, and indicator species to serve as indicators of ecological integrity, evaluate existing habitat within the subwatershed, and develop strategies for the conservation of that habitat.
  2. Provide regulatory incentives for the conservation of undisturbed native vegetation as sites develop.
  3. Require MCWD review of and comment on preliminary plats and vegetation surveys.
  4. Require submittal of a Natural Resources Inventory and Conservation Plan as a condition of permit approval. 

Goal 2.2 - Dutch Lake

Maintain conditions suitable for a healthy and varied fish community within Dutch Lake.

Actions

  1. Work cooperatively with the DNR in fishery management efforts, and request that fish surveys be conducted regularly.
  2. Achieve Dutch Lake water quality and clarity goals to maintain or improve habitat conditions.
  3. Manage aquatic vegetation in accordance with a vegetation management plan that takes into account fishery habitat requirements.

Goal 2.3 - Dutch Lake

Maintain a healthy aquatic vegetation community.

Actions

  1. Perform a baseline survey of aquatic vegetation in Dutch Lake and update that survey every five years.
  2. Develop and implement an aquatic vegetation management plan for Dutch Lake that evaluates options for the management of internal phosphorus loads as well as maintenance of a desirable aquatic vegetation community.
  3. Recruit and train volunteers to monitor aquatic vegetation in Dutch Lake on an ongoing basis.
  4. Develop and implement a plan to monitor wetlands with exceptional or high vegetative diversity for presence of exotic vegetative species.