Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Tragedy of Devils Lake

Waterfowl struggle to paddle through thick non-native grasses

The above picture is a screenshot from video I shot Tuesday October 3.

Footage shows the area just outside of the state campground east of the D River (I’m new to editing and it is a little jumpy in spots).  Follow this link to the video at The Lincoln City Homepage YouTube channel.

I live on the shore of Devils Lake.  I’ve watched daily as the mats of grass have grown.  I’ve watched the soaring Peregrine falcons, that used to find fish daily beneath the surface of the lake, leave and not come back because the fish are no longer visible to them.

I’ve seen boats and jet skis become stalled because the vegetation clogs their engine water intakes. 

I’ve rescued about half a dozen people including a young girl on a round float that got high centered on a patch of weeds and was too terrified to climb into the water because of the horrifying fingers of thick vegetation that surrounded her.

All summer long the Devils Lake Water Improvement District (DLWID) has been fighting a battle against the grasses and weeds that have clogged much of the lake.


Grass carp getting ready for their new home.

Grass eating carp have been introduced but their effectiveness won’t be apparent for years. 

DLWID’s lone grass harvester
A small percentage of the daily harvesting of elodea

A waterborne grass harvester is also being used with some success but against the total square footage of the lake it can only make a superficial impact.

And while the desire and the knowledge of what needs to be done is available, what appears to not be available is the ability of the various government agencies with their respective fingers in the Devils lake pie to cooperate to save the lake and the creatures that depend upon it for life.

To explain all the aggravating infighting would take too long for this piece.

DLWID is tasked with maintaining the lake’s health but without the cooperation of the State of Oregon’s various agencies that have a say in how that health is achieved, and the much needed money to fund what needs to be done, this lake is never going to recover.

Senator Anderson and Representative Gomberg are both well versed in the struggles going on with the lake and have been helpful but it seems that this might best be a job for Governor Kotek to organize a get together of every agency that has a say in the lake’s maintenance

It’s time for all stake holder government agencies to set aside their egos and work to repair and protect this treasure in Lincoln City.


Don Williams
Don Williams
Don Williams serves as publisher and editor of The Lincoln City Homepage.


  1. What a sad shame and look at the amount of money put into that old school on 101 highway with strange, expensive statues sitting out on the lawn. How much has been spent on that project? Way too much, I fear. The lake is surrounded by gorgeous homes and many visitors who love to visit .

  2. We owned a home on Hayden Lake in Hayden Idaho. The lake had an invasive weed called Eurasian Milfoil. I think you could save some time and money if you contacted the Hayden Lake Watershed Improvement District about how they are treating and managing the invasive species.

  3. Someone should go to the governor and ask her to get involved for sure. Maybe send Boone Marker? Get the funds for a study and permanent solution to this emergency. I mean, I couldn’t kayak Devils Lake without coming up with a paddle full of weeds. That constitutes an emergency.

  4. I remember the day when grass eating carp were introduced into Devil’s Lake back in the late 80s. It seemed to work quite well, although it took a little time. I may be wrong, but once the lake was seemingly recovered from the invasive weed/grass, weren’t the carp were killed off? Now, history repeats itself, or so it seems. I realize the carp, while sterile, continued to grow and eventually dominated and eliminated any other fish species that might have still been in the lake. I guess the question is, is it worth it to live with a clear, fairly vegetation-free lake with a dominant invasive species fish, or a murky lake infested with an invasive water weed? I don’t live on the lake, but I do enjoy recreating on it and enjoying its beauty, so I’d vote for the carp.

    • I remember this! I had just moved to Portland from Michigan, and was on an exploratory trip to check out the Lincoln City area. 1986. Got sidetracked at Devils Lake with the carp introduction, and learned a lot about the local area chatting with residents. Always wondered how that turned out—evidently not well?

    • I totally recall this happening before. Grass carp were tried in the early 80’s and there was talk about it as early as the mid 70’s. Solutions offered were to spray and kill the grass or introduce grass eating carp. With the success of the carp, trout and bass fishing groups wanted the carp removed to help improve sport fish numbers. Warm lake temperatures haven’t helped. The shallow depth of the lake means warm water in the summer. Devils Lake was where I learned to water ski and is a great lake when the winds are not howling.

  5. Devils lake used to be a vibrant and beautiful lake that had great fishing for multiple species and a destination for fisherman and leisure boating and water skiing. Devils lake is now a dieing lake due to the lake being very shallow where sunlight can easily reach to bottom of the lake. This is why in my opinion the grass is unstoppable and a continuous issue. I hope the state can get their act together and save Devils lake if possible.

  6. This was an issue when we had a home on Devils Lake.
    There were many options introduced but the bureaucracy was so bad nothing was done and so we sold.
    Wish there were more open minds.

  7. That was a problem 20 years ago with the grasses growing. They introduced the carp then, and it worked great for several years. The carp are not able to reproduce so when they die, you either have to keep an eye on the grass or re-introduce another generation of carp. Somebody didn’t do their job.

  8. Yes, it was a ‘GRANT” so why can’t Devil’s Lake get a “GRANT” it has more of a wanted future than that old school house that smells to high H…… Devil’s Lake should be cared for. I recall how that old school house could not pay the mortgage, so the city had to pay it, then they hired professionals to revise it. That did not work either.

  9. When Paul Robertson was managing the health of the lake it was handled correctly and improvement was evident. Since others decided they didn’t like the effect of proper management and took over for their own agendas we now have a crisis. People are selfish and greedy.

  10. Yet our city is spending huge amounts of our high property tax money on strange looking stuff on the grounds of public buildings, which serve no benefit to us or our thousands of visitors. Now the plan is to build homeless housing along Hwy 101 as you enter our city at the North end of town! Really???

  11. I’m a avid fisherman at 61yrs old and grew up in Salem. All I’ve ever seen as far as ODFW OR.FISH AND WILDLIFE Gos is our licenses and tags continue to go up. The rivers don’t get dredged. The inlets from the ocean are being closed off due to sand and debris. The seals get more fish then all fisherman combined. And with population growth, where does the money go we spend to enjoy our fisheries? Get the government involved and get some funding for what has made Oregon so popular. Create some jobs. Stop cutting pencil size trees. Stop giving everybody and anybody from any country a free ride and think about our children and grandchildren. This is a state that can’t see past yesterday. Feed the homeless cause they don’t have to work. Hello people,lets use the money we have to maintain what’s been given to our state by nature and God and keep Oregon a beautiful place. We just need some real state officials. Not ones that just get paychecks and live in high dollar homes. That are actually qualified for representing our state and what it stands for. This isn’t the land of a free ride. Oregon has gone to… Well, oh ya, a meth lab and garbage dump.

  12. I remember when I was a kid more than 60 years ago the same problem afflicted Devil’s Lake. So this is far from a new problem, but one that apparently occurs in cycles.

  13. Eurasian Milfoil is a menace in many waterways. The Columbia River is rapidly deteriorating due to this one invasive species. I left a home I loved on the Columbia because of this problem. But if communities work together these problems can be managed.

  14. I really wish people would stop dragging their negative attitudes regarding our Cultural Center into these discussions. The Cultural Center is huge asset to this community, for residents and tourists alike, and reflects the generosity, hard work and creative spirit of many dedicated individuals. If cultural pursuits hold no interest for you please do not condemn those of us who think differently. And get your facts straight before expressing uninformed opinions.

  15. We all hope the new carp help. Unfortunately the board was not allowed to introduce enough of them. We all need to work together to save this gem and support the local lake board.

  16. Didn’t they “bleached” and poisoned the inhabitants of the lake with the intent of annihilation of those carps they put in there, along with other living creatures?

  17. Fear for me is waiting for an accident to occur from swimmers getting caught in these weeds. This is a recreation area and people come from everywhere to enjoy it and unknown to them are the casualties waiting to happen. The reason the Cultural Center is brought up over and over is, what is more important, safety for our visitors or a huge development that has taken over 20 years and nothing very exciting has occurred.

  18. Speaking of safety, there are no bike lanes over the D-River bridge. Hwy 101’s supposed to be a state bike tourist route, just 30 to 35mph in this spot. But too many people in cars go speeding right past the Cultural Center & D-River/Devils Lake, I guess due to the freeway-like highway design, with no raised medians. It’s the “main street,” but even the sidewalks are scary to walk along there, like if you parked your bike & are trying to spend money at the little shops, or are walking to the Cultural Center from your lakeside airbnb. Some places there’s not even a raised curb separating the sidewalk from RVs & log trucks

  19. People who build by lakes, and put a yard right up to the edge, then fertilize that
    yard are the ones responsible. The runoff contains what was the limiting nutrient and Poof, you have an invasive grass/weed. Then you whine about it, and tax payers have to pay. The introduction of one invasive species to eat another makes zero sense. Be responsible property owners.

  20. That is gross but at least it’s better now and I can’t wait to back and fish on the lake when “tide” goes down! 🙂


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