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Story Archives: Jury approves plan to draw down water levels
|Jury approves plan to draw down water levels|
By Tom Bonnette
The Franklin Parish Police Jury has given the green light to a drawdown of Turkey Creek Lake aimed at beating back an infestation officials say threaten the popular recreation area.
"If we don't do something, we are not going to have a lake," Police Jury President Harvey Guimbellot said Monday.
The measure, aimed at retarding the growth of giant salvinia in Turkey Creek Lake, was approved by the jury Thursday during the regular monthly meeting.
Giant salvinia is a free-floating vegetation that has the potential to destroy wildlife populations in the lake if left unchecked, said officials from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
"What's so dangerous about the growth is that it can double in size in seven days," said Fisheries manager Evan Thames.
Thames said you don't have to look far to see the damage the plant has caused in other Louisiana waterways like Lake Bistineau in northwest Louisiana, where the state has been fighting a massive infestation for years.
"What happens is that it can come up to the surface of the water and make it impossible to hunt, fish and navigate. It can turn a lake into a golf course," Thames said.
Wildlife officials don't know how the plant made its way to Louisiana, but speculate it could have grown from people dumping the plant, which is often used in aquariums, into waterways. The plant can be transferred from waterway to waterway by clinging to boats, officials said.
Thames, who gave a presentation on the danger of giant salvinia at the meeting, said the drawdown is expected to begin in May and water levels at the lake would be lowered about five feet for two to three months to dry out vegetation accumulations.
During that time, the lake would be treated with chemicals to kill giant salvinia growth, he said.
He said sportsmen would still be able to fish Turkey Creek Lake during the drawdown and needed improvement like repairs to the lake's dam could be done while water levels are low.
Thames predicts the drawdown could boost fish populations by making spawning areas more fertile when water returns to normal levels.
Police Juror Ricky Campbell, who represent the Turkey Creek district, said he is pleased the lake would not have to be completely drained to destroy the plant.
Campbell said he would like the jury to approve an extension of the landing at the parish's RV park on the lake to be carried out during the drawdown.
An extended landing would help to make sure boats would still have easy access to the lake while water levels are low, he said.
He said state money left over for park development could be used to fund the project and dam repairs.