Release Date: 04/10/2008

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Inland Fisheries Division is working to regain control of aquatic plants on Lake Bistineau in northwest Louisiana. The goal is to kill a significant amount of giant salvinia and restore normal use and aesthetics of the lake for residents and visitors.

"We have brought numerous resources to the lake this week in an effort to open up the surface of the water body for all who spend time on the lake," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  "The treatment of invasive aquatics will remain a major commitment for this agency in the months and years ahead."

LDWF's Aquatic Plant Control Program is utilizing a portion of the $6.4 million allocated in the 2007-08 fiscal year to aggressively combat a major threat to the state's waterways.  Seventeen two-man spray crews are on Lake Bistineau as part of the five-day herbicide application project.  Applications to floating mats of giant salvinia utilize Aquamaster, a glyphosate herbicide.  The EPA-approved systemic herbicide translocates through the plant and results should be noted in a week to 10 days.

"Property owners on Lake Bistineau have seen diminished aesthetic and property values," said Sen. Robert Adley (Dist. 36). "Restoring the quality of the lake experience for residents and state park visitors is a dual benefit for the area economy. Controlling these aquatic plants is, and should be, a priority statewide."

The 17,200-acre lake just south of Doyline is a popular fishing spot for bass and crappie with private dwellings and Lake Bistineau State Park offering lakeside accommodations. OSP is working with LDWF by housing spray crews at the state park during the project. It is anticipated that the herbicide application will be followed by a summer lake drawdown.

"Lake Bistineau is a wonderful resource in this region and giant salvinia has become a major threat to restrict lake use by its rapid growth," said Rep. Henry Burns (Dist. 9).  "I will continue to support Wildlife and Fisheries in their efforts to control this problem."

Giant salvinia, a free floating aquatic fern native to Brazil, has the potential to double in biomass every three to five days. When it was first discovered in Lake Bistineau in February of 2006 the Department made significant efforts to eradicate the infestation. Those early efforts were unsuccessful and the plant covered approximately 500 acres of the lake surface by April of 2007.  By December of 2007, the plant had expanded to cover approximately 4,500 acres, despite herbicide applications to 4,156 acres of plant growth which included 3,946 acres treated by LDWF spray crews and 210 acres sprayed by private contractors.

"The lack of severe winter weather since 2001, with temperatures seldom below freezing for extended periods, has allowed the steady growth of all aquatic plants when previous north Louisiana winters would have set them back," said Joey Shepard, Inland Fisheries biologist program manager.

In an effort to increase LDWF's effectiveness in aquatic plant control, the Governor's Executive Budget for fiscal year 2008-09 would add $2 million additional dollars to the department's aquatic plant control budget, bringing those resources to $8.4 million total for next budget year, if approved.

"Aquatic weeds have become a concern for recreational boaters, fishermen and in some instances municipal and agricultural water supplies," said Rep. Jean Doerge (Dist. 10). "All resources the state dedicates to this problem serve multiple user groups."

Funding sources for the department's aquatic plant program include a boat trailer registration tax set in place by Act 77 of the 2002 Louisiana Legislature's regular session.  That funding has been averaging $500,000 per year since fiscal year 2003-04.  Act 183, an equally important piece of legislation passed during the 2007 regular session, extended this funding source with no sunset provision. These funds, combined with federal and Conservation Fund dollars to purchase additional herbicides and manpower, are all part of the total funding aligned to fight the problem statewide.

"Funding is a key component to keep Wildlife and Fisheries' aquatic plant control program operating at a level that will make a difference in our inland waterways," said Rep. Jim Fannin, (Dist.13). "I will continue to work with fellow legislators and the department to provide the necessary resources."

An additional control method in the program, the salvinia weevil, is seen as a very promising method of control for giant and common salvinia, and obtaining this natural weed predator in quantities sufficient to contain the threat is now a major component of the program. Inland Fisheries will continue to pursue other treatment options to chemical spraying, including containment booms, mechanical harvesters and increased public education efforts to heighten public awareness.
Controlling the spread of aquatic weeds by a combination of methods will be the focus of the Aquatic Plant Control Program in the years ahead.

For more information, contact LDWF Press Secretary Bo Boehringer at 225-765-5115 or bboehringer@wlf.louisiana.gov.

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