Giant Salvinia Creeps Into Lake Palestine

If you're heading out to the lake this weekend, you might hit some setbacks. On Lake Palestine, a "killer weed" has shut down the Kickapoo Creek boat ramp for at least a month. KLTV 7's Tracy Watler was on lake Palestine Friday to found out what officials are doing to keep the East Texas lake from falling victim to the potentially deadly plant.

It's a clear and sunny day at Lake Palestine, but something dark is growing around the West canal.  It's a lake lover's worst nightmare.

"If it's not their worst nightmare it's in the top ten," says Fisheries Biologist Richard Ott with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

It's called Giant Salvinia and it's an aquatic fern, that looks innocent enough, almost like clovers, but it chokes the life out of a lake.

"You wind up with a dead zone underneath the plant, it will kill plant life there, fish can't survive," he adds.

And they fear boaters may be bringing the weed with them back onto this boat ramp.

"They put their boat in the water, the material floated off here, some of the it was deposited on the ramp and a lot of it floated off into some of the weeds and the vegetation along both sides of the canal," Ott says.

That's why they've closed off access to the ramp and put up an orange boom to stop the plant's spread.

Giant Salvinia is so fast growing that in just five days, one handful of the stuff turns into two handfuls, and so on and so forth.

"You can see how exponentially it can grow at an enormous rate and totally cover the surface of the water," says Ott.

And to prevent that from happening, from Lake Palestine looking like Caddo Lake, almost completely overtaken, they need your help.

"Remove any vegetation from your boat before leave one lake and got to another," Ott says.

Something fisherman Jerry Kidd says he'll start doing.

"I know a lot of us don't and we carry grass from other lakes and not even think about it, but probably be a really good idea now to start taking closer precautions," Kidd says.

That way, one leaf at a time, we can keep the lake as beautiful tomorrow as it is today.

Texas Parks and Wildlife urges boaters to wash of their boat and trailer before entering any lake, and if you find any Giant Salvinia put it in a plastic bag and throw it away at the lake.

If you are found in possession of, or transporting, Giant Salvinia, you could face a $500 fine.  It is illegal, a Class C Misdemeanor.

The plant was also found on Lake Sam Rayburn last week, but no ramp has been closed down there.

Tracy Watler, Reporting