Lake Bistineau Gates Close Early This Year
I'm not saying that Salvinia comes straight out of Hell, but I am saying that if the Devil eats salad, it's probably made from this lake killing, invasive, aquatic species.
If you've spent any time on any of our area lakes like Caddo, Cross or Lake Bistineau, over the last several years, you probably wondered what were those vast mats of the plant like weed that essentially choke entire pockets or make navigation nearly impossible. That, my friend, is salvinia.
Wikipedia defines salvinia as:
Salvinia is a floating fern named in honor of Anton Maria Salvini, a 17th-century Italian scientist. Watermoss is a common name for Salvinia.
From a human point of view, when their growth is robust the plants pose a particular hindrance on lakes. For example, they choked off much of the water in Lake Bistineau near Doyline in Webster Parish.
Even Wikipedia recognizes just how much of a problem this weed has become on our own Lake Bistineau. The problem has gotten so bad that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has employed a two-tier attack in hopes of controlling the weed. Even the LDWF doesn't think we'll ever see a total eradication, but controlling it seems to be a more achievable goal.
The first tier of the attack comes in the form of the annual drawdowns where Lake Bistineau's spillway gates are opened to lower the lake an estimated 7 feet. Then, while the lake is down, the LDWF engages the second tier as they employ contractors to spray a herbicide that will kill as much of the exposed vegetation as possible.
While the battle appears futile, Mother Nature can certainly help the cause by bringing on another hard freeze as the freezing temperatures will kill the otherwise hearty salvinia.
It's the annual drawdowns that have become the target of lakefront property owners and those who enjoy using the lake for fishing or other watersports. With the lake down so much, vast areas become unnavigable and certainly unavailable for recreational watersports aside from fishing. And property owners essentially lose their "lake front" status as the shoreline moves literally hundreds of yards from its location when the lake is at full pool stage.
Though there is no set schedule for Lake Bistineau's gates to be opened or closed, they are generally opened around Labor Day and then closed again after the first of the year.
This year is different though. According to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, the body responsible for the opening/closing of the gates, those gates were closed yesterday, Monday, Oct. 19.
In a news release from the LDWF we learn that because of above average rain amounts in August and September, the level of lake Bistineau has ceased to fall and by closing the gates now, and allowing the lake to return to full pool level, will provide an opportunity for salvinia to flush over the spillway as north winds and rains move through the area.
Obviously the lake won't return to pool level overnight, so please use extreme caution if you venture onto Lake Bistineau. Oh, and pray for a real hard freeze this winner.