LOOMIS LAKE — Maybe not complete victory — but significant success.
That’s the mood of those involved in cleaning up the weed-infested Loomis Lake.
Concerns about the potential loss of the Long Beach Peninsula’s largest inland lake for recreation and fears about falling property values were among spurs to action, which has taken place over the past five years.
Janet Easley, a lakeside resident, is widely credited with getting the project going — then chasing its progress, or as she laughingly put it, “nagging where necessary!”
Weed issues have long been at the forefront of concerns up and down the Long Beach Peninsula. Not all interior lakes are accessible, but the ones that people can get to are often as attractive to locals and visitors for walking and recreation as the ocean and Willapa Bay.
The freshwater Loomis Lake’s eastern shore is mainly woodland owned by the State of Washington and the Columbia Land Trust. But the west bank is bordered by private homes plus some undeveloped lots.
In 2014, a group of concerned individuals began alerting the leadership of the Tides West and Sunset Sands homeowners associations about the issue. Both groups later chipped in $500 donations to help.
A letter circulated to residents and other potentially interested parties seeking involvement created a mailing list of 72 people and that level of interest spurred action.
“These weeds were getting worse every year,” Easley said. “We tried to get all the stakeholders together.”
An alphabet soup of agencies would become involved, including the Columbia Land Trust, Washington State Parks, the Pacific Conservation Group and the Pacific County Commissioners. The Dunes Bible Camp occupied a key location in the area, too.
Easley credits Mike Nordin from the Pacific Conservation District, for leadership in bringing agencies together.
During this period, the area gradually got worse.
“The lake was absolutely full of weeds. You couldn’t cast a line out, because it would sit on the water,” said Rebecca Lexa, who has created a new brochure to show residents how they can help. (See related story)
A committee, which formed under the name of the Loomis Lake Restoration group, brought in expert Kim Patten from Washington State University Extension.
Prior concerns have highlighted Scotch broom, gorse, pampas grass, holly, yellow flag iris and English ivy. Patten’s study revealed two other invasive species: Eurasian watermilfoil and Brazilian elodea.
Developing a plan led to a successful application for a $75,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology to pay for spraying. This required a 25 percent local match, although most of that was achieved by allowed credits for in-kind services.
Spraying took place twice in late fall 2016, again in the summer of 2017 and a fourth time late last fall. Easley said some people had expressed concerns about spraying with a herbicide, but putting carp in the lake, dredging or hand-pulling were never viable options.
Patten said Eurasian watermilfoil and Brazilian elodea are two of the most common invasive species found all around the U.S.
“They are just tough to get rid of,” said Patten, who has WSU professor emeritus status since his recent retirement. “They are in basically every state, although not in every body of water, and they are pretty aggressive.”
He said the key to the success of the Loomis Lake project was stakeholders taking ownership in the outcome. “They did a wonderful job,” he said. But he added a warning that continued vigilance is essential. “The diligence is in the follow-up.”
For Easley and Lexa, the success of their efforts was signaled when boaters and kayakers started to use the lake again — and people resumed fishing. Kayakers have been recruited to keep a close watch and any recurrences are reported to the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
“It looks so much better,” said Easley, noting the change will also help protect property values in the neighborhood.
“You see people out there in their boats and kayaks,” she said. “It is a sense of satisfaction.”