This was in the outdoor sports section of the Tyler paper Sunday. Apparently Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is trying to kick start some "native" aquatic species on several Texas Lakes. It made me think, in a sarcastic way, now this is how Texas does the worlds largest Nature Aquarium.
However, where are they going to plug in the CO2 setup, and will they be using EI?
Also, it mentions the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens has an aquatic plant nursery, and I wonder if they would give a tour of that setup. http://tylerpaper.com/article/201207...09885/0/Search
Vegetation Projects Put Native Plants In Texas Lakes
By STEVE KNIGHT
Real lakes aren’t built overnight.
It takes centuries of plants and trees living and dying to create the perfect aquatic environment.
Unfortunately, most lakes in Texas were built overnight as part of the reservoir building boom of the 1950s through the 1970s.
Instead of carved out of the soil by years of erosion or from geographical depressions, our lakes were created by bulldozers that pushed away the trees and earth movers that scraped away the dirt.
What was left behind wasn’t exactly a sterile environment, but it did lack the natural native aquatic vegetation that helps improve water quality and creates better fish habitat.
For a lot of years that part of the fishing equation was ignored as biologists focused more on stocking fish and regulations.
“We kind of waited for it,” said Richard Ott, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Fisheries biologist.
“We knew it would come, we were just not sure what it would be. If we stood back, with the new reservoirs and nutrients that they had in them, the vegetation would show up. The problem was the species that showed up first weren’t the ones we really wanted.”
That isn’t the case anymore. Aquatic vegetation, the right kind of plants, is getting more than a serious look. It is getting a helping hand through vegetation introduction programs. About 10 projects have been conducted on East Texas reservoirs in recent years. The most ambition was the stocking of five miles of shoreline at Lake Conroe last summer. The newest have been a recent pilot project at Purtis Creek State Park Lake and an upcoming planting on Lake Palestine later this month.
TPWD became proactive with vegetation in the mid-1990s following research conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It started with a statewide program to narrow down the list of native species that worked best, and a method of establishing them that wouldn’t create a buffet for turtles and other herbivores.
Those successes lead to the creation of an aquatic plant nursery at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, helping overcome the final hurdle of a plant source.
At Purtis Creek four enclosures were filled with four plant species: American pondweed, Illinois pondweed, water star-grass and wild celery.
On Palestine water willow will be substituted for American pondweed. Considered a marginal species, it is hoped water willow might establish better in the hard clay substrate found on the southern end of the reservoir where the plantings take place.
Ott noted that star-grass is another he suspects might do well on the lake because it prefers more alkaline conditions. Star-grass is a major species on Richland-Chambers Reservoir.
“These are all considered native plants,” Ott said. “Generally when looking at them it is native to the southeastern region of the country, but in these cases we know they are native to Texas. These were river and swamp species.”
For the most part Palestine has been void of vegetation since the 1980s. In its early years of the lake coontail was firmly established, but when it disappeared nothing has really taken its place.
On Palestine 30 cages will be established over about a mile of shoreline on the lower end of the lake.
Over time cuttings and seeds from those plants will be moved up the lake by wind, birds, boats or any number of means, helping their expansion.
Ott added that the plants will not become established overnight. It could take the better part of a decade before fishermen start to notice the plants in a large scale. That beats the 200 or so years it might take for them to establish naturally.
“The plants we put in will fill the cages by the end of the summer. They will create seeds and cuttings that will float around and get started in enough places the herbivores can’t get all of it,” Ott said.
Besides creating fish habitat, the vegetation has several other benefits. It can filter water making it cleaner, help reduce erosion and control exotic species that can become problems for boaters, property owners and possibly agencies taking water from the lake.
“Once they get existed they do resist some of the exotic species. We did it at Bellwood, and hydrilla has been choked out,” Ott said of a project started in the 1990s. There, American pondweed, Illinois pondweed, wild celery and water star-grass were used. All but the star-grass eventually became established.
Vegetation programs are gaining interest not only with biologists around the state. The Lake Fork Sportsman’s Association recently planted button willows and is considering developing its own aquatic plant nursery. Similar projects and initiatives are being considered on other lakes across the state in private/public partnerships.
Have a comment or opinion on this story, contact Outdoor Editor Steve Knight by email at [email protected]