Lake Bistineau

Lake Bistineau, September 17, 2012, Update

Lake Bistineau is currently 6.25 feet below pool stage.  All 12 gates on the control structure are open at this time, and the water level is decreasing by 2 inches each day.  The target depth of the drawdown is 7 feet below pool stage.  There are approximately 600 acres of giant salvinia on the upper portion of the lake that remains unstranded.  That number should be reduced within the next few weeks as the target drawdown level is reached and spray efforts continue.

Despite the fact that the water level is dropping much slower than anticipated, salvinia plants are stranding out and drying.  Spraying continues on the lake, and our efforts are concentrated on areas that are unlikely to dry out.  Once the lake reaches the target drawdown level, we will determine if spray contractors are needed. 

For those who have attended the private spray training course, please use this time to treat along your shoreline or boat houses where small pockets of water may remain that are holding salvinia.  These areas also include access canals that may not dry up as well.  LDWF crews will be using ATV/UTV spray rigs to spray the shorelines, but every little bit of assistance we get is greatly appreciated. 

There is high volume of angler activity on the lake.  Remember that Lake Bistineau has a tremendous amount of underwater hazards, so please navigate the lake with extreme caution during drawdown conditions.  We are in the process of marking channels with signage provided by the Bistineau Task Force members from Bossier, Webster and Bienville parishes.  The next Bistineau Task meeting will be in early October and is open to the public.

Evan Thames

Fisheries Biologist Manager

Lake Bistineau,January 25, 2012 Update

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year thus far!  Currently, Lake Bistineau is at pool stage.  Anglers, duck hunters and lake homeowners have been waiting for this day for quite some time; since September 16, 2011, to be exact.  While salvinia has not been eradicated from Lake Bistineau, it is at a manageable level at this time.  There are an estimated 500 acres of giant salvinia on the lake.  Herbicide applications by state spray personnel as well as contract air boat applications are ongoing. 

The largest areas or “mats” of vegetation are being targeted first, in an effort to be as advantageous as possible.  When large mats are present, more plant material can be effectively treated in one day rather than spot treating small areas or scattered drifting material.  Spray crews follow the salvinia mats as they move with changing wind directions. 

Currently, there is no drawdown scheduled for 2012, but drawdowns may be utilized depending upon the total acreage of salvinia at certain times of the year as described in the Lake Bistineau Management Plan.  The Department is working cooperatively with other agencies and states to research methods that may aid in the fight against this invasive plant species. 

In the past, we have asked for the pubic to notify us of hot spots throughout the lake in need of treatment.  We have received numerous emails and calls with reports, and these efforts have been greatly appreciated.  This process enables our spray crews to spend their time solely treating plants, instead of first seeking them out, thus increasing productivity.  Remember, with cooler air and water temperatures, it takes a longer period of time for evidence of herbicide applications to be visible (i.e. browning or dying of the plants).

LDWF is currently in the planning stages of timber thinning and removal of cypress trees.  We do not have a specific timeframe for the timber harvest at this time, but do know that it will occur during a future drawdown event. 

Channel markers on the lake can be difficult to follow at times, so Bistineau Task Force members have volunteered to make and/or purchase display signage to assist boaters while navigating the lake.

The first training session for the “Lake Bistineau Private Spray Training Program” will be held at the Department’s Minden office at 9961 Hwy. 80, on Saturday, February 18.  To register for the class, contact Connie Kyles with the Saline Soil and Water Conservation Office at (318) 894-9326.  Registration is limited to 75 participants, so please register as soon as possible to ensure a spot.  Future training sessions will be announced when dates and locations become available. 

Hopefully, the remainder of January and February will bring colder temperatures to assist in reducing the overall acreage of salvinia on the lake.

Evan Thames

Fisheries Biologist Manager

Lake Bistineau, August 16, 2011 Update

August 16, 2011

Lake Bistineau is currently 2.5 feet below pool stage due to the lack of rain in the area.  Salvinia currently covers a combined area of approximately 25 acres. 

LDWF spray crews are working Monday through Thursday, treating the floating fern with herbicides.  Airboat contract spraying began this week in an effort to open up areas inundated with alligatorweed.  This will hopefully allow homeowners easier access to the main lake from their properties.  The contract crews will be working for approximately two weeks and will treat roughly 1000 acres of alligatorweed. 

This week, LDWF along with DOTD will attempt to slow a leak in dam gates as a temporary solution.  The permanent solution for the problem includes grouting the cracks; this must be conducted during a drawdown.  Currently, there are no plans for a drawdown, with hopes water levels will soon return to pool stage.

Continued public involvement in reporting areas of concern regarding aquatic vegetation is greatly appreciated.  The easiest way to report a problem area is to email myself at  I would also like to encourage all to attend the Bistineau Task Force meetings, as they are a guaranteed source of the latest data.  These meetings are scheduled every two months at 10:00 a.m. at the Webster Parish Courthouse.           

Good luck to all of the duck hunters during teal season this year.  Bistineau may prove to be a hot spot due the drought conditions in this part of the state. 


Evan L. Thames


Fisheries Biologist Manager

Lake Bistineau, June 13, 2011 Update

June 13, 2011

Currently, Lake Bistineau is 16 inches below pool stage.  Approximately 40 acres of salvinia is scattered around the lake.  We are actively treating giant salvinia and alligator weed harboring salivinia, with herbicides.  Although several complaints have been made about alligator weed in the lake, we must concentrate our efforts on giant salvinia at this time.  However, we do have plans for contract spraying of alligator weed after July 1.

I would like to thank those who have sent emails reporting new salvinia growth.  This has saved us a tremendous amount of time and aided in our efforts to control salvinia on Lake Bistineau.  Please continue to do so, and we will do all we can to keep the lake beautiful and accessible for all user groups. 

Also, please be cautious when irrigating from the lake.  The water could contain herbicides that may kill or stunt your garden or lawn.  If you do irrigate from the lake, it is best to do so on Sundays.  This timeframe allows for dispersion of the herbicides in the water column.   

If you would like more information on the status of Lake Bistineau, please attend the Bistineau Task Force meetings, as they cover all current issues regarding the lake. 

Evan L. Thames


Fisheries Biologist Manager

Lake Bistineau April 20, 2011 Update

April 20, 2011

Lake Bistineau is currently four feet below pool stage due to lack of rainfall once the gates were closed last May.  Overall the lake is in good shape. We have less than 20 acres of giant salvinia on the lake at this time. This is due in part to cold weather as well as herbicide applications. 

There are a few areas where we are treating new growth or primary stage plants on the lake. They are around Plum Orchard Marina, Toulon area, dam area as well as the extreme upper reaches of Spring Branch.

We have treated a 13-acre beaver pond in the upper reaches of Spring Branch with Sonar AS. This is a water soluble herbicide that treats the entire water column. Thus far, the results are extremely promising.   Salvinia control in the outer areas including the beaver pond and gravel pits is essential because they are feeders to the lake’s main water body.  If we can control or eliminate the problem there, it will make the main lake’s management much more effective. 

The permitting process is nearly complete for individual landowners to remove cypress trees from the lake area close to their property.  I will approve which trees are removed prior to any cutting or permits being issued.  As soon as these permits are available, we will notify the public here on our website. 

We ask that all landowners on the lake take the time to visit their shorelines and report any new salvinia growth as soon as possible. This is the time of year new sprouts appear, and we need to act as quickly as possible to hold back the explosion.   This small amount of effort put forth by landowners will significantly decrease the amount of legwork our personnel has to undertake to simply locate the plants.  I can better utilize our personnel within the same timeframe if we can dedicate the majority of our time to spraying the plants rather than both locating and spraying them.  Such a small effort per individual can produce a very large output. When located, please contact me at

Our department plans to host a salvinia workshop at our Minden office to educate the general public on salvinia identification as well as offer an opportunity to have any questions answered concerning the biology of the plant.  If you are interested in attending, please email me as soon as possible so you can be notified once the workshop is scheduled.  I recommend all concerned members of the public attend the Lake Bistineau Task Force meetings at the Webster Parish Courthouse scheduled every two months. 

If you have questions or need further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at or 318-371-5216.

Evan L. Thames
Fisheries Biologist Manager

February 8, 2011 Lake Bistineau Update


Luckily, Mother Nature is putting a pounding on the giant salvina in Lake Bistineau with sufficient cold weather.  As we observed last year, it takes several weeks for the plants to brown up and fall-out from freeze damage.  So, while giant salvinia  is still visible we expect much of what remains to dissipate by early spring.  Last year our biological staff estimated that only an acre of salvinia remained by “green-up” in early 2010.

We are receiving a lot of inquiries for information about the water levels in 2011.  Our plan is to implement water fluctuations as the plants begin to grow and expand in early summer.  Again, fluctuating the water levels is expected to strand the plants and allow for their desiccation.  Two conditions are required for this method to have desirable results.  First, their needs to be enough water in the system, or capacity to allow for sufficient water level lowering and create stranding opportunities.  Our hope is to fluctuate levels between pool stage to minus 4 feet.  Secondly, we need the plants to be in areas that are susceptible to drying out as a result of fluctuating to lower water levels.  This method is expected to offer the best method for controlling giant salvinia in the lake while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.  We of course will be spraying aquatic herbicides appropriately.  Hopefully we can use our spraying efforts to keep the plants moving to the edges and out of the trees where matting occurs.  Once the plants mat in the trees they tend to move less and expand in coverage.  In short, it’s impossible to predict when we’ll initiate water level fluctuations.  Everything will be based on the two criteria mentioned above.

I will be providing another update next week.  This update will provide information about continued actions and new initiatives.  I’ll also recap some of the things discussed at the recent task force meeting.

Mark McElroy
Fisheries Biologist

Lake Bistineau Update - Sept. 22, 2010

Several weeks ago, the gates at the control structure on Lake Bistineau were closed in an effort to slowly increase water levels.  Unlike last year, there has been very little precipitation in the watersheds, resulting in no water level increase above the 7 foot drawdown capacity.  

As expected, giant salvinia, especially in protected areas/pockets has increased in coverage.  

The gates will remain closed until water levels rise and salvinia coverage is evaluated at the increased water levels.  When water levels allow, we plan to initiate water level fluctuations to strand the salvinia.  Please note that water fluctuation efforts may occur prior to the lake reaching pool stage.   Rain events drive water levels in the lake.  Therefore, the department cannot provide a timeframe for fluctuation events based on this unknown.  

Part of our plan also includes continued herbicide applications on the lake.  However, maneuvering equipment for these treatments is tedious and dangerous due to low lake levels and stumpage.  Currently, some shallow areas appear to be inundated with the plant.  Many of these areas remain inaccessible to herbicide treatments, but once lake levels rise, the salvinia will disperse over a much larger space.  As the plants move to new areas, we anticipate they will be more susceptible to stranding due to water level manipulation in combination with herbicide treatments.  

Webster Parish has submitted a funding assistance request to develop a new boating access facility at the Port of Bistineau to allow boating access during drawdown periods.  The department will consider this request once parish officials submit a finalized application.  

Those interested in removing cypress trees during the drawdown period are asked to contact James Seales (318) 371-3063 in our Minden office.  We will consider issuance of a permit on a case by case basis, based on the need.   We require that all trees be cut to the mud line and removed from the lake.  

Mapping of the lake bottom is not expected to be complete until the lake level reaches pool stage sometime this winter.  A contour map is necessary to finish our assessment of shallow lagoons in preparation of our request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct specific dirt work.  These lagoons serve as an exceptional habitat for salvinia growth.  In our plan, we discuss the need to address those areas cut off from draining during drawdown events.  

A fly-over of the lake is planned in the near future to help us understand more about giant salvinia coverage during the drawdown and identify those areas cut off from draining.

Please continue to use our Website to submit your comments and questions.  Your input is important to us, and we encourage everyone to stay actively engaged.
Mark McElroy

Fisheries Biologist

Lake Bistineau July 7, 2010 Update


The department has requested DOTD’s assistance to close the Lake Bistineau water control gates on Wednesday, July 14, 2010.  Fisheries staff are beginning to observe giant salvinia accumulating in some areas of the lake and agreed that it’s time to initiate some water fluctuation and attempt to strand plants.  Of course, present water levels need to rise in order to initiate this method.  Opening the gates in the future will depend on rain events and plant accumulations. 

It will not necessarily be our goal to allow the lake level to rise to pool stage in order to initiate water fluctuation.  We plant to alert the public a week in advance of either opening or closing the gates. 

While the lake has been down, fisheries staff have been evaluating salvinia re-emergence and assessing the lake bed.  Aspects of the plan remain incomplete pending the completion of this work.  Central to our efforts include a lake bed contour map and identifying areas for “dirt work” and tree removal.  Some of this work is best completed while the lake is down.  Allowing the lake to rise at this point is not expected to complicate these efforts.

Spray crews have treated some salvinia accumulations with herbicide spray applications.  As the lake level rises, our crews will have easier access to shallow areas and our efforts will increase.   

In addition, some areas have been designated to evaluate SONAR treatments.  These treatments, similar to Galleon treatments, require that water volume remain constant for several weeks to obtain desirable results.  Applications are expected in July.

Our website is presently being overhauled and our communication diminished in the last few weeks.  Our new site will be up soon.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

Mark McElroy
Fisheries Biologist

Lake Bistineau May 5, 2010 Update


As the lake continues to lower to 7 feet below pool stage level, our fisheries staff is preparing to evaluate the lake bottom and acquire sufficient data to plan for lake bottom renovations.  Any approved plan to move dirt will require prior approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  We will work cooperatively with this federal agency during the summer. 

The plan is to incorporate fish habitat improvements while addressing the issue of drying lagoons during drawdown events.  We’re confident that we can accomplish both simultaneously.  The earliest any dirt work can be accomplished is the summer of 2011, and it will require an approved Corps permit and a commitment by the National Guard.

Our fisheries staff observed salvinia re-emergence around the lake.  The plants are small and dispersed, making treatment with contact herbicides impractical at this point.  Spray crews will treat areas where plants are heavily accumulated.

As noted in the plan, cypress tree removal in some areas is necessary to encourage salvinia mats to move to shallow areas, increase boating safety and decrease leaf litter.  Over the next few months, while the lake is down, our fisheries staff will identify trees that will satisfy one or more of these needs.  In addition, we encourage any timber company interested in harvesting/salvaging cypress trees under our supervision to contact Mark McElroy in the Baton Rouge office at 225-765-2865.

Going forward, prior notice (of one week or more) will be posted on this website to notify the public of the opening and closing of the control structure gates.  For now, the gates will remain open to allow time to accomplish the activities described above.  Hopefully, we can complete our work quickly so that we can resume fluctuating water levels in an effort to control salvinia growth.  

Mark McElroy
Fisheries Biologist

Lake Bistineau April 12, 2010 Update


There will be a public meeting to discuss the Lake Bistineau Rehabilitation Plan at the Lake Bistineau State Park, Area 1, Boat Launch Pavilion on April 17, at 9 a.m.  Mark McElroy from LDWF will attend the meeting to discuss aspects of the plan and answer questions. 

Those planning to attend the meeting are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the plan posted below.  

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