Giant Salvinia returns to Lake Athens and Lake Gilmer

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AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department confirmed that giant salvinia can once again be found in Lake Athens and Lake Gilmer after they surveyed the bodies of water.

“The return of giant salvinia to these lakes is disappointing but not surprising,” said John Findeisen, leader for TPWD’s team monitoring and treating problematic aquatic vegetation like giant salvinia. “The relatively warm winter and prime growing conditions this spring and summer contributed to the rapid expansion of giant salvinia in lakes where salvinia has been present.  This results in giant salvinia being able hitch hike on boats, trailers, and other equipment from heavily infested lakes to other lakes.”

Lake Athens was checked on September 16, and all giant salvinia found during the survey was treated. At Lake Gilmer, some giant salvinia was identified near a boat ramp and removed by hand. The lake was surveyed by boat, and no other plants were found.

Later this week, Lake Gilmer will be searched more extensively.

“With giant salvinia only being found at the boat ramp, it’s easy to conclude the introduction was likely from a vessel transporting the plant,” said Findeisen.

Giant salvinia is a highly invasive, free-floating aquatic plant that can double in size in less than a week, and it is a big threat to aquatic ecosystems in Texas. The difficult plant can make it hard to go fishing, boating, and swimming in lakes.

Giant salvinia recently began affecting boat access at Lake Sam Rayburn and Lake O’ the Pines, as well as on other reservoirs.  This increases the chance of plants being transported from one lake to another on a boat, trailer or other equipment.

Boaters need to remove all plants and mud from boats, trailers, vehicles and gear, and drain the water from their equipment and on-board receptacles before leaving the lake to prevent giant salvinia and other invasive species from spreading, according to TPWD.

TPWD added that boats and trailers should also be dried completely before travelling to another lake for at least a week. The department also encouraged washing the boat and compartments, using a carwash or other thorough cleaning method, to help reduce the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species if drying is not possible.

Transporting invasive species in Texas is illegal and can cost people a $500 fine. Boaters are also required to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles such as bait buckets, before travelling to another public body of fresh water.

For more information on how to properly clean, drain and dry boats and equipment, visit the TPWD YouTube channel for a short instructional video. To learn more about giant salvinia, zebra mussels and other invasive species in Texas, visit tpwd.texas.gov/StopInvasives.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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