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Residents express frustration with salvinia fight

by Minden Press-Herald

It’s all about money.

That’s what some said during a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries public meeting on Lake Bistineau Tuesday.

John George, of Shreveport, owns a camp on Bistineau Camp Road, and he said if LDWF is underfunded to fight giant salvinia on the lake, then there must be some dollar amount that can give the department the tools they need.

“It’s not working,” George said. “Obviously there aren’t enough resources to kill this thing, and we have to change that. We have to start talking about a different way to get more resources. I don’t believe that you have adequately told us, the public, what your budget is, what you spend a year and what that’s doing for us. Whatever it is, it’s not enough.”

Biologist Manager Jeff Sibley said “no amount of money you throw at it” will eradicate giant salvinia.

“We have spent over $5 million on Lake Bistineau over the last 10 years,” he said. “You’re not going to keep it in check with just herbicides. We’re not going to spray this plant into submission no matter what the budget is.”

LDWF has a budget of about $7.9 million to fight salvinia statewide, and the majority is spent on Lake Bistineau. They are battling about 57,000 acres of salvinia across the state, Sibley said.

He said that $7.9 million budget varies from year to year depending on which lake has the more severe problem.

During the drawdown, wildlife agents sprayed 4,006 acres of salvinia on Bistineau, costing an estimated $321,000.
“In 2016, we spent more money on spraying than we had the two previous years combined,” he said.

He said although this year’s drawdown is considered a success, it didn’t kill as much salvinia as he’d hoped.

“Based on several years of observations and the science behind it, we know that it’s critical to have that drawdown started before this rapid expansion starts,” he said, adding their plan of attack is not to eradicate the salvinia but to manage it through active herbicide spraying and the drawdowns.

Audience members expressed their frustration about the perceived lack of spraying on the lake. Sibley said he understood their frustration, and a 45-day contract just went into effect Tuesday.

Discussion turned to possible solutions, bringing out ideas such as placing booms around the boat launches to keep the salvinia from cluttering them up to mechanical removal.

Sibley said while those ideas in theory and in practice are working, each idea by themselves would not work.

Robert Dean, who lives near Shady Point on the Sibley side of Lake Bistineau said the use of the lake is about family.

“It’s basically eroded our quality of life, and we’re hearing the same things,” he said. “You’re spraying the same way as you did last year. Have you just thought about booming that stuff and just hammering the hell out of it?”

Sibley said the issue is not about it being in one place or another, the problem is everywhere.

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