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Photo by Larry Hodge / TPWD

CONSERVATION

Giant Salvinia Clearing at Lakes


Recent vegetation surveys conducted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Team have revealed that giant salvinia — an invasive, free-floating fern that has been wreaking havoc on East Texas lakes for more than 20 years — is believed to have been eradicated from Lake Fork and Lake Athens.

“We have not found giant salvinia in either lake since early last winter,” says John Findeisen, team leader. “This is very exciting news. Back in 2017, we weren’t sure if eradication was even possible. With early detection and a coordinated, rapid response, we can effectively fight back against this invasive plant.”

Giant salvinia was first discovered in Texas on Toledo Bend in 1998 and then spread throughout East Texas. The most recent infestation at Lake Fork was discovered in November 2017; Lake Athens was first infested in February 2018. The team deployed floating booms to contain the giant salvinia in affected areas and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of herbicide treatments.

Findeisen says that while giant salvinia has been eradicated from these lakes, TPWD will continue monitoring them closely because they are still at high risk of reintroduction. Giant salvinia is currently present on 18 East Texas lakes.

“As the weather warms and people start visiting these lakes more often, they need to remember to properly clean, drain and dry boats and equipment to prevent reintroductions of giant salvinia,” Findeisen says. “Nobody wants to be known as the person who brought salvinia to a lake.”

For more information on proper cleaning protocols for boats and equipment, and to learn more about giant salvinia and other invasive species, visit tpwd.texas.gov/giantsalvinia.



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