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Photos: Lake Hood floatplane base weed survey

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  • Updated: June 28, 2016
  • Published June 24, 2015

A tenacious, invasive aquatic plant is now growing in what might be the worst place in Alaska – the floatplane mecca of Lake Hood.

The site – actually two connected lakes in West Anchorage, part of the Anchorage international airport complex – has long been touted as the world's busiest floatplane center. Now it could be the vector for the spread of elodea, a leafy, long-stemmed plant notorious for crowding out native species of freshwater flora.

Elodea, a plant much used in freshwater aquariums, has already taken hold in several freshwater sites in Alaska. It was first found in Cordova's Eyak Lake in 1982 and has since spread to sites from Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula.

The bad news about Lake Hood came when Amy Larsen, a plant specialist with the National Park Service, found some of it growing near the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service aircraft area, said Heather Stewart, a state invasive-species expert.

For elodea in Alaska, Lake Hood is "the worst place but, to be honest, not unexpected," said Stewart, invasive weeds and agricultural pest coordinator for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

Read more: Notorious invader found in waters of Anchorage floatplane base

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