Giant salvinia, the invasive aquatic weed plaguing Lake Bistineau, seems to be getting worse in the bar pits in Dixie Inn.
However, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Jeff Sibley says they’ve been treating the area for approximately eight years, about as long as they’ve been fighting it on Lake Bistineau.
“Technically, that’s the legal definition of the end of the lake,” Sibley said of the bar pits.
“It’s been that far north for seven or eight years now. We’ve always concentrated efforts in that location. We’ve sprayed in those gravel pits adjacent to it, and it got there from boat launches and just the migration of the lake.”
The heavy rains and the overflow of water this year didn’t help either, he said.
“In the summertime when it grows best, you’ve also got those southerly winds,” he said. “In that particular area, there was some of it in there from last year’s floods, but it didn’t get real severe. This year, certainly, it was in there during the flood event and brought nutrients into that area, and it was a more fertile system.”
There are places loosely connected to the stream and high water events, he says, which added to the explosion of growth in Dixie Inn, but some of it is not state owned, adding that it’s private property.
“It’s not a part of the system,” he said. “All the land is owned by individuals; it’s not something the department necessarily manages. If we ever got to the point where that was the only source of it around, we would certainly try to assist and deal with it.”
Their primary concern remains Lake Bistineau, he says, as LDWF continues spraying the invasive weed and moving forward with the weevils projects.
Currently underway is a weevil study by the Bistineau Task Force. The task force is experimenting with a certain type of weevil to learn their effectiveness on the salvinia. Weevils are the only known predator to giant salvinia, Sibley said.
“The fight with salvinia is we still have so much of it out there,” he said. “We’ve got 1,000 acres of it out there on the lake that we’re working with. Our goal is managing it, maximizing recreational opportunities that we can give the public on the lake.”
LDWF has had crews on the lake spraying the salvinia year round in an effort to keep it under control. They have also used weevils in certain areas, but those efforts didn’t pan out due to Louisiana’s temperate climate.
They are looking at putting some things in motion so that when spring comes, the public will be able to enjoy the lake during the prime time of the year, he said.