Friday, January 9, 2015

Salvinia: A Cancer On the Water

Salvinia: A Cancer On the Water, by Jane Jackson of Louisiana written for the Bugwood Blog

In 2006, a cancer invaded Lake Bistineau in northwest Louisiana. The battle to control salvinia and eradicate this invasive aquatic plant has been ongoing. The Facebook page, Lake Bistineau News, was created to unite property owners, sports enthusiasts, hunters and all people who love the lake and advocate for salvinia control. The group now numbers over 1,300 and I invited the members to share how salvinia has affected their lives. I fear our Louisiana waters are compromised. Salvinia is now in 50 or our bodies of water.
As you read this article, I hope you will come away forewarned. If Salvinia comes to your state, be prepared, be proactive, be ready. It is too late for our waters, but maybe other states can learn from our experience and protect their lakes and rivers. Here are our stories . . .

. . .“There was a log covered in it (salvinia) just under the surface. I remember hearing it hit under the boat, then knocking my motor out of the water, and the giant rainbow colored oil slick coming from the crack in my lower unit. Moral of the story, idle through salvinia or get a new motor!!”

. . .“During the flood of Oct. 09 - Salvinia poured into our yards and left a HUGE MESS! Back then, no one cared ! NOW the State says we have a problem - because it's reached other areas besides Bistineau. “

. . .“We rode around the Ringgold side of the lake today and saw first hand a lot of dead salvinia where the lake bottom was dry. We also found a ton of active growing salvinia up to the tree line with nothing but moist ground. All channels and areas that don't drain...are holding live salvinia...these areas need to be sprayed ! Air boats can't get will take ATVs with spray equipment to reach these areas. The lake needs a longer drawdown time frame to allow these areas to dry up.”

. . .“My addition to the story: When we first began the fight, the local representatives of our Wildlife and Fisheries were active with us in the fight--spraying, training us to spray, using drawdowns as last resorts. Now State Offices must approve treatments. Previously, I could report sighting of big patches of Salvinia and within a few days local authorities had a sprayer out treating the infestation. That doesn't happen now. It has to be approved in the State Office and it's now weeks before sprayers get to the location that has by that time doubled in mass or moved with the wind.”

. . .“2006 and now 2014 and no closer to getting rid of the weed because no one wants to do what is necessary”

 . . “I bought my place on the Port O Bistineau side of the lake in 2012. The lake bed was dry but I bought anyway. The lake eventually filled up and I saw the beauty and that revealed the reason I bought my place. Now I am on a mission to keep it at its beauty. Just last July I walk out on my dock and see two tiny ducks struggling to get through the mass of Salvinia and Alligator Grass. I had to get in my boat and clear a way for them to make it to land.
It is a shame that our wildlife has to suffer when they are what makes my place what it is. The ducks flying over, fish jumping, frogs croaking, birds its gone. I hear occasional air boats in the back ground spraying this invasive cancer. We can't enjoy the lake, its not there..can't fish...they have moved on.”

. . .“My South Louisiana Salvinia Story . . . A year and a half ago my husband was standing on the dock at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge and cast netting for shrimp. He got lots of shrimp that day! Now, fast forward to September 2014. We show up at the refuge to try our luck and what do we see
. . .Salvinia. It broke my heart. Makes it impossible to cast net. We still caught 2 dozen crab, but the salvinia was in our crab net and on the crabs. It was brown and looked dead but if you looked closely you could find some green. Just letting you know, it's everywhere.”

In conclusion, I hope you, the reader, now have a glimpse of the toll salvinia has inflicted upon people, habitat and wildlife. I hope you never have to face this cancer upon the water, known as Salvinia.