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July 22, 2009
Native Plant Restoration Set for July 25 at Lake Conroe
Revegetation Part of Statewide Effort to Benefit Fisheries, Water, People
CONROE, Texas — This Saturday morning, July 25 on Lake Conroe, state fisheries biologists and volunteers will plant about 150 native plants in protective cages, part of a statewide effort to restore lake vegetation that improves water quality, prevents erosion, and provides high quality habitat (food and shelter) for fish and other wildlife.
The event is sponsored by the Lake Conroe Seven Coves Bass Club (a BASS affiliate) under the direction of Ron Gunter. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility (LAERF) are cooperators and supporters of the project.
The replanting team will meet at Stow-a-way Marina (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/conroe/access.phtml#pointc) at about 7:45 a.m. Saturday and plan to get on the water by 8:00 a.m. Work should wind down around noon. Volunteers are welcome, just plan to get wet!
This is the first vegetation planting by the Seven Coves Bass Club for 2009 but at least two more planting days are anticipated during this summer.
The team will be planting a mixture of water willow, pickerel weed, bullrush, spike rush, and water lily. The cages for most plants will be tray cages (which look like an upside down basket made of vinyl-coated fence material), with ring cages (six-foot tall, seven-foot in diameter rings made out of vinyl coated wire) used to protect the water lilies.
Although all the plants will be grass carp-resistant (plants grass carp don’t like to eat) the cages are still needed to keep fish and other animals from disturbing the plants until they are well established.
TPWD, SJRA, and LAERF, with assistance from BASS, have been developing methods for establishing native vegetation in reservoirs since 1995. The techniques developed are known as the founder colony approach, where strong mature native plants are planted in protective enclosures (cages) in the best conditions possible in a reservoir, then allowed to expand on their own from these "founder colonies." In this way, the plants can spread themselves through seed, fragments, and other reproductive structures far faster and more economically than we can actually plant them. From 1996 through 2007 this approach established more than 1,000 acres of native aquatic vegetation from about a quarter-acre of founder colonies at Lake Conroe.
Because of rapidly expanding hydrilla in Lake Conroe over 100,000 grass carp were stocked in 2007 and 2008. The result was the hydrilla has been eliminated but the native plant coverage has also been reduced to about 150 acres.
As part of the overall vegetation management plan at Lake Conroe the Seven Coves Bass Club applied for and received a conservation grant for about $45,000 from BASS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build a native plant nursery on property provided by SJRA below the Lake Conroe Dam in order to produce grass carp resistant native plant species to re-vegetate Lake Conroe. TPWD provided additional funding ($25,000) for equipment needed to help the nursery operate and SJRA provided $25,000 to purchase appropriate native plants from LAERF as nursery brood stock to grow plants for current and future plantings.
The Seven Coves Bass Club produced and planted over 1,200 native plants last year and hope to plant even more this year. The Seven Coves Lake Conroe Plant Nursery is capable of producing about 1,600 plants every six weeks during the growing season.
The Lake Conroe project is part of a larger, statewide effort to restore native vegetation at reservoirs. There have been revegetation plantings in recent years at Lake Waco, Lake Grapevine, Choke Canyon, Jacksonville, Coleman, and other water bodies. TPWD continues to seek additional funding and volunteer support to expand the program. Any interested parties should contact Mark Webb at email@example.com or (979) 822-5067.
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