SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - If you see a backhoe floating in one of the lakes in Golden Gate Park your eyes aren't fooling you. San Francisco Recreation And Parks Department is using a new specialized piece of equipment to clear out weeds. The machine is called an Aquamog.
In North Lake you can see all the greenery creeping out from the shoreline, unchecked it will completely cover the lake from shore to shore.
It's called Water Primrose. A pretty name for a weed and now the city has one of the biggest baddest weed-eaters out there to yank them out.
With the treads and claw you might think it's a backhoe but then it pushes off and starts floating out into North Lake in Golden Gate Park, it's claw pulling huge clumps of the invasive plant out by the root.
"The water primrose got established on the shoreline of North Lake," said Lisa Wayne from San Francisco Recreation and Parks. "And has spread into the lake itself, and was nearly covering the entire water body."
The Aquamog is able to do in hours what would take days of dangerous labor for workers to do by hand.
Over the years water primrose has crept into North Lake, slowly crowding out local plants.
"Oh it'll completely take over. No doubt about it," said Wayne. "It can't root deeply in the lake so it's really well adapted to grow on top of itself to spread into the middle of the lake."
Despite it's size, San Francisco Rec And Parks says the crews manning the Aquamog can actually be remarkably precise. With a biologist on hand keeping an eye out for fish, birds, frogs and other wildlife workers can yank up clumps of the invasive plant and leaving patches of native species.
In just a matter of hours with a portion of the lake surface free of water primrose wildlife began moving in looking for a new home-and a new place to grab a quick bite.
"They have moved in, there's a Black Phoebe that is already swooping down and taking out insects from above the lake and there's more Dabbling Ducks that are coming in," said Wayne.
The project, is projected to cost a little more than $117,000. Crews expect the work to take about a month and will be moving onto other lakes here in the park overrun by Water Primrose.
At this point no word on how the invasive species got here in the first place but Rec and Parks say it's a good reminder for people to not dump any plants or animals into city lakes thinking they're setting them free. Doing that may actually damage the local ecosystem.