Biologists battle against East Texas invasive aquatic plant

Biologists battle against East Texas invasive aquatic plant

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Giant Salvina an invasive aquatic plant that is now threatening numerous East Texas waterways.

The plant forms huge floating mats and chokes off essential sunlight where it grows.

Texas Parks and Wildlife inland fisheries personnel are on the frontlines fighting the battle against it.

At Lake Gilmer, inland fisheries biologist Tim Bister is on a mission for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, trying to identify and manage the spread of Giant Salvinia.

“One of the things that I always do when I come to a boat ramp is look for Giant Salvinia," Bister said. “Nine times out of ten, that’s where were going to find a new infestation.”

New growth has been found in Lake Lone Star and others.

It reproduces rapidly, with devastating effect.

“It grows out of control. It creates thick mats on the surface of the water. Native plants don’t produce oxygen because they’re not getting sunlight for photosynthesis,” Bister said.

And fish need that oxygen.

“Really had a lot of plant growth the last month or so," Bister said. “What we’ve seen is some new lakes being infested in just the last few weeks, and now we’re in the management process.”

It’s most often spread by boaters bringing the plant from lake to lake on their hull or engines.

“All boaters have a responsibility to make sure they are not transporting it from lake to lake,” Bister said.

Though there are a number of ways to eliminate Giant Salvinia, inland fisheries are hoping that the weather will give them a hand.

In 2017, Caddo lake was plagued with over 6,000 acres of the lake being overgrown with Giant Salvinia.

But winter freezes, and flooding actually killed off a large portion of it.

Bister said, aside from that, people will be the first line of defense.

“Help us help you by keeping from spreading Giant Salvinia from lake to lake,” Bister said.

Bister said boaters should thoroughly wash their boats and engines to guard against transporting the plant.

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