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|Wildlife secretary Barham warns of giant salvenia danger|
Louisiana lakes and waterways are facing a major threat in coming years, according to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham.
Barham addressed the Winnsboro-Franklin Chamber of Commerce luncheon, where he reported on efforts to rid one Louisiana waterway of an infestation.
"What should look like a beautiful, Cypress studded lake doesn't look like a lake at all," Barham told the chamber. "It looks like a pasture because giant salvenia has come to Lake Bistineau."
Barham said giant salvenia first appeared in Toledo Bend several years back.
It most likely found its way into the lake by way of a single plant dumped from an aquarium or decorative pond.
Since that time, the plant has also appeared in Lake Bistineau, where it has "taken over," according to Barham.
The plant grows atop the water and is easily spread from lake to lake.
One method of potential contamination is for part of a plant to get trapped on a boat in one lake and then transferred to another lake.
Barham pointed out the plant can live "for several days" trapped between a fishing boat and a trailer.
"Fortunately you don't have it here yet, but brace yourself," Barham said. "If it gets here, you've got trouble."
Once introduces to a new lake, stream or bayou, giant salvenia spreads rapidly.
"It can double in biomass in two to five days," Barham said. "If you find a lake with one acre of it, in a few days it's two, then four."
Barham said once the plant gets a foothold, it's virtually impossible to stop.
"In two months, you've lost your lake," Barham said.
The infestation on Bistineau will be difficult to contain, though the state is making efforts.
Barham said he's spent $1 million so far, yet little headway has been made.
The plant is not susceptible to spray herbicides because it has a natural defense against sprays.
To eradicate the plant, Barham said they would have to completely drain Lake Bistineau and leave it dry for two years and then, "hope we can stay ahead of it."
"It's a frightening possibility prospect about having these plants," Barham said.
Barham said fishermen who visit lakes around the state should be very mindful of spreading the plant, because it becomes trapped on boat trailers.
Barham asked fishermen to be mindful and clean their boats after each use.
"This plant is spread completely by fishermen," Barham said.