"World's Worst Weed" Overtaking East Texas Lake - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/15/07-Caddo Lake

"World's Worst Weed" Overtaking East Texas Lake

It's the only naturally-formed lake in Texas and now it's being threatened by a plant dubbed "the world's worst weed." Caddo Lake stretches thousands of acres across East Texas and into Louisiana. Already, hundreds of those acres have been taken over by Giant Salvinia, but one group is trying to put a stop to it and take back their lake.  

"All of these little plants, that's Giant Salvinia," Jack Canson points out.

Giant Salvinia--it may not look like much, but it's as threatening to lakes as it is hard to pronounce.

"It is an enormously aggressive plant, when it overtakes an area, it overtakes all other vegetation, it shuts out all sunlight and it sucks out all the oxygen out of the water, that becomes a dead lake, nothing can live under and no other plants can grow among it," says Canson.  He's the Caddo Lake Giant Salvinia shoreline watch director.

In the plant's grip right now, the eastern half of Caddo Lake.  But now, Canson and his so-called "weed wardens" are stepping in to make sure the weed doesn't creep any further, especially westward. 

"That part of the lake will be gone, and we cannot allow it to happen," he urges.

His crew is making a two mile-long fence out of mesh netting...yes, a fence in the middle of a lake that runs shoreline to shoreline. 

"What we're doing is we're narrowing down the size of the haystack that we have to find the needle in, we're narrowing down the various places it could escape to," Canson says.

They've also created a "watch group" to police the net and clean it out every day. 

"What you're looking at there in four days will be twice as much as what you're looking at and four more days, eight times as much as you're looking at," he says while scooping Giant Salvinia out of the lake.

You can see the net is doing exactly what it was designed to do.  After being cleaned out just two hours earlier, already clumps can be picked up all along it. 

"We model our shoreline watch on neighborhood watch precisely because we few this as like an unwelcome intruder in your neighborhood and it's a crime to let this happen, without doing everything you can," he says.

And if that mission succeeds, Canson says millions of tourism dollars will keep rippling back into the East Texas economy.

He says you can help by reporting any Giant Salvinia you see on the lake and by always washing down your boat or trailer before entering and leaving the lake.

Once the fence is complete, he says his group will then start attacking the Salvinia already overtaking the eastern side of Caddo Lake.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com 

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