Giant salvinia making parts of Caddo Lake impassable
By Robin Y. Richardson and Peggy Jones firstname.lastname@example.org@news-journal.com
July 18, 2012 at 10 p.m.
KARNACK - A proliferation of giant salvinia has rendered parts of Caddo Lake impassable for boats.
Officials of Cypress Valley Navigation District said a severe reduction in state funding to fight the water weed, combined with ideal growing conditions, is resulting in an explosion of the invasive plant.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reduced funding to the navigation district by almost 40 percent during the 2011-12 fiscal year, said Jeff Thompson, chairman of the navigation board and Harrison County commissioner.
Each of the past two years, the parks and wildlife department allocated $120,000 for the district to use for boat road clearing and maintenance of navigation of waterways on Caddo Lake, Thompson said.
For the current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, the state granted $75,000.
"That's for boat road maintenance as well," Thompson said. "That money has to be used for all aquatic vegetation control – for giant salvinia, water hyacinth and hydrilla. We are more focused on giant salvinia than the others."
By the end of this fiscal year, the district will have sprayed about 700 acres of the 30,000-acre lake.
Other control measures include spraying by Texas A & M University, as well as federally funded research on the giant salvinia weevil, which feeds solely on giant salvinia.
District spokesman Robert Speight described conditions at the Clinton Lake area as "horrible."
"We sprayed about 110 acres in Clinton early on, before A&M went up there," he said. "It's not looking good.
He said navigation district boats are spraying around houses and public and private boat ramps in the Uncertain area and by Tucker's Camp.
Because of budget constraints, Speight said the district is only running one boat.
Thompson said if the district does not receive the same level of funding from the state parks and wildlife agency for the upcoming fiscal year - $75,000 - the board will be forced to drastically reduce efforts.
"If we only get what's contributed from Harrison County and Marion County for our budget for 2012-2013, there's no way we can do the amount of spraying on limited funds," said Thompson. "And, it doesn't sound like the vegetation is slowing down."