Revolutionary ‘lawnmower’ used in Stansbury Park to combat invasive species

STANSBURY PARK, Utah – The large boat may look and seem a bit strange when residents of Stansbury Park and Tooele spot it on Stansbury Lake for the first time.

“I call it the Lake Monster,” said Stansbury Park resident Chelsea Dixon.

Paddle boats, kayaks, inner tubes: these are all normal things to spot out on a body of water, but a lawnmower?

“I love it,” said a smiling Dixon. “There’s cutters on the front, chops the weeds, goes on up, and we unload it.”

The mower is quite extensive; with a conveyer belt in the front and another in the back, and a driver sitting in the middle steering.

“Everybody wants behind their house cleaned,” jokes Dixon.

“Because the lake is so shallow, the sunlight comes down, and because we live on a lake, fertilizers come into the lake, and it’s perfect conditions for the grasses,” points out Brenda Alverson, with the group Friends of Stansbury Lake.

“We’re just trying to find ways to resolve these issues so we can use the lake,” Alverson points out. “Within a short period of time, these phragmites will take over anything along the lake.”

The phragmites aren’t native to North America, and Alverson says they’re causing a significant problem. She says the reason the lake weed grows is the low water level, but every time they add water, the phragmites and Tamarisk trees gobble it all up.

“The one up the way is probably 40 feet high,” Alverson points to a tamarisk tree. “They can drink up to 600 gallons of water a day. So, we’re pumping water into the lake to keep the levels high, but the trees like the tamarisk are sucking it up.”

The city plans to keep mowing the water weeds to keep the waterways navigable, and Alverson plans on helping to locate the invasive plant species on land. In fact, she’s going around in her paddle boat to find them.

“There are 28 houses, and 20 of them have phragmites,” she said while pointing to a map of homes surrounding hers.

Next up, the city plans on dumping bacteria into the lake to help combat the scum in the water and improve the quality.