Johnny Cantrell (Retired) Corps of Engineers Biologist for Lake Ouachita discusses the Lake Ouachita aquatic weed conditions and the progress of the re-introduction of native aquatic plants to enhance fish habitat.
The Desirable Weeds:
Johnny Cantrell (Retired Biologist C. O. E.) said there is some Water Willow in Lake Ouachita. It is a very fast growing plant that will survive in and out of water. If a segment falls on the shoreline, it will re-generate. It is a non-invasive, native species. Water Willows have been introduced into Lake Greeson because the lake level fluctuates. The Water Willow will survive fluctuating lake levels. The water willow grows up to 4 to 6 feet deep, and is good shelter for bait fish.
The Coontail is a native aquatic plant that resembles a pine forest on sonar. It reproduces by fragmentation and grows up to 20 feet tall. It will grow in 6 to 8 feet of water and provides great protection for fish because it forms large beds. Johnny Cantrell. related they have not done any work growing this species in the tanks. The C.O.E is trying to determine how to reproduce it faster than in it can reproduce in the natural environment.
The aquatic plant Vallisneria will be introduced into Ouachita.
The Undesirable Weeds:
Mr. Cantrell stated that Hydrilla grows one inch every 24 hours, and is an invasive, non-native species. He related how using the Pakistani Fly larvae as a control will bore into the Hydrilla stem approximately 6 to 8 feet below the waterâ€™s surface to keep the Hydrilla plant from interfering with recreational boat traffic on the surface. The Pakistani Fly does not kill the plant, but controls the expansion of the plant and will keep it from matting on the surface. Johnny Cantrell says that Hydrilla has a rough, sandpaper texture, and this is how you can tell the difference between it and Brazilian Elodea.
Johnny Cantrell says he is afraid this plant will end up in the area lakes and in talking with other biologist who are dealing with the evasive plant, it is worse than Hydrilla, sometimes referred to as "the world's worst water weed."
There is a weevil that will eat the Giant Salvinia leaves, but the weevil population canâ€™t deter the fast growth of the plant and the plant just grows so fast, it can ruin a lake.
Currently the plant has been found in lakes within 60 miles from the southern border of Arkansas. Mr. Cantrell suggest an education program to educate boaters to ensure they inspect their boats and trailers prior to launching them into Arkansas waterways to prevent the spread of the evasive non-native exotic species would be a good idea.
Brush Shelter Program Lake Ouachita:
In 2008, the C.O.E placed 10 (200 basal inch) brush
shelter sites around the Little Fir area.
In 2010, the Agri Departments at Centerpoint constructed 100 units, Kirby constructed 100 units and Mount Ida constructed 100 units.
2009, Centerpoint High School Agri Department built 200 crappie condos and these were put in Lakes DeGray and Greeson. They were GPSed and marked on a map.
Two hundred ninety eight of these shelters were placed in Greeson, DeGray and Ouachita. These sites were also included on the map indicating the GPS coordinates for their locations.