Houston County Lake has been added to the list of Texas bodies of water that has a confirmed infestation of giant salvinia.
Lake Palestine is currently among those confirmed to have a presence of the invasive plant.
After being tipped off to the Houston County infestation on social media, the TPWD Brookeland Aquatic Habitat Enhancement team deployed to the reservoir and found the majority of the invasive plant in the south cove with more scattered in areas on the north side of the lake. Those areas will be treated with careful application of contact herbicide on larger mats of the invasive plant.
Giant salvinia is currently present on 17 East Texas lakes, including Houston County Lake, Caddo Lake, Lake Conroe, B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir, Lake Livingston, Lake Murvaul, Lake Nacogdoches, Lake Naconiche, Lake O’ the Pines, Lake Palestine, Lake Raven, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Sheldon Reservoir, Lake Striker, Lake Texana, Lake Timpson, Hemphill City Lake, and Toledo Bend Reservoir. Additionally, giant salvinia can also be found in most, if not all, of the rivers, creeks, and marshes between Houston and Beaumont.
AHE team lead John Findeisen urged hunters, anglers and all other lake users to help prevent it from spreading further by cleaning, draining and drying boats, trailers and gear every time they leave the water.
Lake Athens has been clear of giant salvinia since late 2018 after it was discovered and no new infestation has been reported on less than one acre.
In addition to harming the recreational experience at lakes and damaging aquatic ecosystems, the transport of aquatic invasive species can result in legal trouble. In Texas, transporting prohibited invasive species is punishable by a fine of up to $500 per violation. Boaters are also required to drain all water from their boat and on-board receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water in order to prevent the transfer of aquatic invasive species.
Giant salvinia is a floating fern from southern Brazil that has become one of the most problematic aquatic plants in Texas. Infestations can double in about a week under the right circumstances. It blocks out sunlight and decreases oxygen concentrations to the detriment of fish and other aquatic animals. When plant masses die, decomposition lowers dissolved oxygen further.