Residents on and around Lake Bistineau are beginning to agree drawing down the lake to be rid of giant salvinia is a must.
A Bistineau Task Force meeting, facilitated by Trailblazer RC&D of Ruston, gave residents the opportunity to make comments while members of the task force collected 150 surveys to send to the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Jeff Bailey, a recent land purchaser on the lake noted that in a recent tour, he noticed salvinia that has been exposed to the sun during the drawdown is dying.
“The drawdown is working,” Bailey said. “I support a longer lake drawdown. I support spraying and everything that’s being done, but I think if we had a total comprehensive plan, we can get control again.”
Several persons who spoke at the meeting also agreed that releasing weevils on the salvinia would be a good idea, best handled by a lakeside facility where the weevils would be grown.
Complaints came from area fishermen, who support ridding the lake of the plant but are unhappy with the drawdown. One resident volunteered to spray in front of her property, if given the chemicals.
Rep. Gene Reynolds said when he took office he promised he would have a bill every year concerning Lake Bistineau’s salvinia problem.
“I have kept my promise,” Reynolds said during the meeting. “First year my bill got killed in the Senate because we were trying to take oil and gas resource from the bottom of the lake to fund it. It had a lot of opposition.”
The second year, it went through Appropriations, where again, it died because of budget deficits.
“This year, I’ve already filed a bill, working on a different twist,” Reynolds said. “Wildlife and Fisheries’ hands are tied to a certain point.”
Reynolds said this year, he will have two bills – one a capital outlay request.
“The other is a request through Appropriations to put a dual research center on the lake for the weevils, which is a tough task. The big minus on the weevils is they are for tropical weather and cannot stand a lot of cold,” he said.
In addition to the weevils, another plant would have to do with endocides.
“Researchers have been experimenting with getting chemicals out of salvinia for cancer research,” Reynolds said. “In the process, they crush the salvinia and get a mixture of compounds – endocides.”
“With EPA approval, the National Center for Pharmaceutical Crops will come to Lake Bistineau and do clinical trials on a wider area,” he continued. “They want to see what it will do on a wider area than their experimental ponds – Lake Bistineau is perfect for that.”
The entire process, from collection and extraction to treatment and residue disposal is under patent application and, Reynolds believes could be done at lakeside.