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Texas Anglers Strike Back at Invasive Aquatics
ATHENS, Texas — Texas anglers and boaters get it: Invasive aquatic species are a real and growing threat to their ability to do what they love to do-but they don’t have to stand by and watch it happen.
They can fight back, and that was the purpose of two separate events on July 18.
Working with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), volunteers from the American Anglers Club from Temple and Killeen, the Grand Saline Bass Club and the Lake Fork Hawg Hunters removed seven dump truck loads of water hyacinth from Lake Quitman.
That same day a number of interested citizens and members of the Beaumont Bass Club, the Houston Bass Bandits and the Magnolia-Tomball Bass Club scoured the area around boat ramps on Sam Rayburn Reservoir looking for giant salvinia. "No giant salvinia was found, although some volunteers did bring in common salvinia," said Howard Elder, aquatic vegetation biologist for TPWD. "It’s possible the plant is there hiding under buttonbush and along the banks where bass boats couldn’t get to it."
Members of local Boy Scout troops joined in the effort at Sam Rayburn, passing out information and collecting litter from around the Jackson Hill Park Marina boat ramp as part of a Keep Texas Beautiful project.
The fight against invasive aquatics like giant salvinia is important to everyone, not just boaters and anglers, said Terry Sympson, who manages the Jackson Hill Park and Marina on Sam Rayburn. "A recent study showed the annual economic impact of recreational activities on Sam Rayburn is more than $41 million," he said.
"When you think about that amount of recreation, that amount of money involved in the things that we love to do, the impact of giant salvinia can be just absolutely devastating," Sympson continued. "It’s really important that everyone-the public, everyone who enjoys being out on the lake-understand what giant salvinia is, what it does, and helps keep us abreast of when they find it so we can do the best we can to keep it out of here."
"We had three goals going into the project," said Leslie McGaha, co-director for conservation for the Southeast Texas B.A.S.S. Federation Nation and coordinator of the Sam Rayburn event. "First was to remove any giant salvinia we found. Second was to increase public awareness, and third was to map locations of any giant salvinia found. In an odd twist, we actually found no giant salvinia-but that’s a good thing."
"TPWD biologists and game wardens can’t be everywhere at all times, so we depend on anglers and boaters to report infestations of giant salvinia," said Elder. "Once we know where it is, we can go in and remove or treat it. We request that anyone finding suspected giant salvinia write down the GPS coordinates and call me at (409) 384-9965. There is a fine of $500 per plant for transporting giant salvinia, but we are more interested in prevention than in enforcement."
McGaha agrees that lake users need to step up and become the first line of defense against the plants that threaten their activities. "Bill Watts of the Beaumont Bass Club had an excellent idea that the Southeast Texas B.A.S.S. Federation Nation will expand on: Increasing awareness at every ramp we use during our regional tournaments. That will be a major focus during the 2010 tournament season," she said. "We really feel that although we can be part of the problem, we can be 100 percent of the solution."
Sponsors of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir round-up included Jackson Hill Park and Marina, Sealy Outdoors, Pineywoods Sanitation, Boatlanes, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Keep Texas Beautiful, BASS ACT (BASS Angler Conservation Team) and Southeast Texas BASS Federation Nation.
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