Sunday, November 29, 2015

Invasive Giant Salvinia Found in Lake Fork

Invasive Giant Salvinia was recently found in the Chaney Branch of Lake Fork and in a small cove located west of the dam. The Giant Salvinia weed chokes out native vegetation, shades waters and reduces the oxygen level needed for fish. The Sabine River Authority (SBA) and the TPWD physically removed Salvinia plants and have isolated the infested area with a floating boom. TPWD will be spraying the infected area with a chemical treatment. The SBA has also closed the Chaney Point South and Secret Haven boat ramps and is warning boaters to stay away from the above infested areas. Please clean your boat when leaving any Texas water body, and please read the below paragraphs for more information on invasive species. 

Invasive Giant Salvinia Close-Up
Giant Salvinia Adjacent to Chaney Branch's Secret Haven Dock TPWD Copyright

Exotic and invasive fish , shellfish, and aquatic plants are invading Texas’ rivers, lakes, ponds, and the Texas Gulf, and are competing with Texas’ native species for food and space. A sampling of these invasive species that are causing problems in Texas is listed here. The invasive Giant Salvinia, a popular aquarium plant, has been found in Texas in water bodies in Friendswood, Alvin, Houston, League City, Channelview, and Mont Belvieu, and has also been found in Caddo Lake, Sheldon Lake State Park, the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, and Lake Fork. Giant Salvinia spreads rootless in chains on water surfaces and chokes out native vegetation, shades waters and reduces the oxygen level needed for fish. Report all sightings of Giant Salvinia. The invasive Hydrilla plant has invaded Lake Austin, and threatens recreation, navigation, and water intake pipes. The city has stocked the lake with sterile Grass Carp which has reduced the problem. The invasive Plecostomus (Sucker Fish) have also been found in Texas’ water bodies. This is a popular aquarium fish which when released into the wild multiplies fast, and grows large. Another invasive fish is the Lionfish. This fish is also a popular aquarium fish. The fish has few predators and it feeds on small crustaceans and small fish, including snapper and grouper young. Each fish can spawn every four days and produce up to two million eggs a year. In their natural habitat in the South Pacific, natural predators keep the Lionfish population down, but in U.S. waters they have no natural predators. To date, the invasive Lionfish has infected and threatened the waters of the U.S. Atlantic Coast. More recently, invasive Lionfish have been found in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Galveston. NOAA researchers have concluded that the Lionfish can’t be eliminated by conventional methods and the population will continue to grow. Zebra Mussels, an invasive shellfish, have infested several Texas lakes. Zebra Mussels spread by hitching rides on trailers and boats. They spread rapidly in water bodies and damage boats by encrusting hulls, clogging the boats’ water systems, and clogging air conditioners and heads. They cause navigation buoys to sink, and damage city water supplies by colonizing inside water pipelines. They take over habitats from other native species. Zebra Mussels have been found in Lakes Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Lavon, and Belton. There have been isolated infestation cases of them in Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Grapevine, Lake Fork, Lake Tawakoni, the Red River below Lake Texoma, the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, and Sister Grove Creek. Each mussel can produce up to one million invisible larvae.

On May 22, 2104, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a new regulation requiring all boats operating on Texas’ public fresh waters be drained before leaving or approaching a lake or river in order to help combat the further spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species.”

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has also enacted regulations making it illegal for boaters to enter or leave North and Central Texas water bodies without draining all water from their boats and onboard receptacles including wells, ballast, and engine cooling water. Boaters should remove all plants, animals, and mud from their equipment, boats and trailers, and thoroughly wash everything, including crevices and hidden areas. Boats and trailers should be allowed to completely dry before entering other waters. If your boat has been in infested waters for extended periods of time, clean it with high pressure water greater than 140 degrees before entering other waters. Click for more information. Fish Aquarium owners can do their part by not dumping aquarium fish and aquarium waters into Texas’ water bodies, and by not flushing invasive species down the commode.

SBA Removing Giant Salvinia From Lake Fork  TPWD Copyright

Lake Fork Chaney Branch Map

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