Volunteers roundup Giant Salvinia in Lake Sam Rayburn

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

BROADDUS, TX (KTRE) - One of the largest lakes in East Texas is Sam Rayburn Reservoir. It attracts boaters and anglers from all over. Efforts are underway now to prevent the invasive water weed, Giant Salvinia from taking over the popular recreational spot.

The Southeast Texas Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) www.texas-bass.com organized an ambitious effort to control the weed. For the Giant Salvinia Roundup horsepower is needed to get you across the lake, into the brushy coves, where the noxious weed grows.  "It takes out all the oxygen in the water. It completely covers over the water," Terry Sympson, Jackson Hill marina manager described. "The plant will get wind blown and then it will get anchored in among these weeds. Once it starts growing it can double in size in just a couple of days," Leslie McGaha, a B.A.S.S. volunteer added.

Users of Sam Rayburn Reservoir want to get a good handle on the Giant Salvinia. The process can be pretty slow because often times it must be pulled out by hand. Weed wranglers aren't finding much during the one day event. A good problem to have considering the weed is prolific this time of year.   "It's in about 14 freshwater lakes now in Texas, mainly in East Texas," said Sympson.  "Our biggest issues is Toledo Bend now has about 5,000 acres of it."

Toledo Bend is just a thirty minute drive for anglers from Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Sometimes they fish both lakes in one day. The law abiding ones check their trailers for salvinia hitchhikers before launching. "Anywhere there is a crack it will wedge itself in," Dennis Bacon, a Colmesneil angler said while checking around his boat. "If it's really bad, all I can do is go to a car wash and spray it out."

Other control methods are working too.  "There's approved herbicides," Larry Hodge, spokesperson for Texas Parks & Wildlife said. www.tpwd.state.tx.us  TPWD and the Sabine River Authority have been battling the invasion with herbicides, but the rains of 2004 kept Toledo Bend Reservoir full and allowed the plant to spread into shallow, stump-filled areas where spraying boats can't go. "In 2004, it overwhelmed us. We were able to treat only 228 acres," Elder said. "Our goal is to keep it contained in Toledo Bend and keep it from reaching Sam Rayburn." "There are weevils that eat the giant salvinia too," Hodge said.  But the bugs can't eat fast enough. Also they are having difficulty dealing with the East Texas winters.  Right now prevention is the best defense to keeping Giant Salvinia from roaming to waterways across Texas.

©2009 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.