SAN FRANCISCO – Starting Monday, an unusual visitor will descend upon Golden Gate Park’s Chain of Lakes, chomping its way through the marshy waters and spitting out any invasive weed that dare stand in its path, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today.
The Aquamog, an aquatic vehicle that looks like the unlikely offspring of a small paddleboat and a backhoe, will dine on submerged and floating invasive plants for approximately one month at North Lake, the largest of the three natural waterways that make up the Chain of Lakes. North Lake is known for its birdwatching, and its paved path is popular with joggers, dog walkers, and parents pushing strollers. It has long attracted water birds that take shelter on its small islands, including egrets, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, and many types of ducks.
Invasive plants, mainly water primrose and parrot feather, have grown across nearly 80 percent of North Lake’s open water. When these aquatic invaders take over a lake, they can destroy native plant populations, choke waterways and eliminate major food sources and habitats of native animals. Removing the invasive vegetation will improve the health of the lake and its shoreline and enhance viewpoints from the pathway.
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department uses vegetation management methods that cause the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment. Using the Aquamog to harvest the bulk of aquatic weeds is more environmentally friendly than applying herbicides and more efficient than removing them through manual labor. The project’s goal is eradication of 100 percent of invasive weeds. SF Rec and Parks has previously used an Aquamog in Pine Lake and Metson Lake.
The Aquamog is owned by DK Environmental, a Bay Area company that contracts with the City to restore native plant populations and healthy ecosystems.
Two staging areas at the northern shore will be closed for the duration of the project, while areas along the perimeter pathways may be closed intermittently. The work will continue until late November.
Once nestled in the sand dunes that covered western San Francisco, the three waterways that make up the Chain of Lakes are among Golden Gate Park’s five natural lakes. The rest of the park’s lakes are artificial.