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DALLAS (AP) — An invasive plant that can clog boat motors, block sunlight from lakes and affect aquatic life has turned up in another East Texas waterway, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department announced Tuesday.
Confirmation of giant salvinia at Lake Fork Reservoir, 60 miles east of Dallas, has prompted an aggressive effort to remove and kill the fast-growing plants, TPWD spokesman Larry Hodge said. Chemicals are being used on giant salvinia, a floating fern that’s native to Brazil and reproduces by budding. The leaves are about the size of a quarter, sometimes larger, the agency said.
Several boat ramps are closed, and a floating boom warns boaters to stay clear of the Chaney Branch of the reservoir and a nearby cove, totaling about 3 acres.
“We’ve found in infestation like this on other reservoirs in East Texas and have gone in and physically removed the plants, all that we can find,” Hodge said. “If you catch it early sometimes you can get rid of it, at least temporarily.”
Giant salvinia, which can be transported by boats and trailers, was found earlier on Caddo Lake, Toledo Bend Reservoir and Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Hodge said. Some Louisiana lakes also have infestations of giant salvinia, which can form dense mats on water and also hamper fishing.
“We do everything we can within the limits of manpower and budget that we have to work with,” Hodge said. “The problem is that everybody who has a boat is a potential vector.”
Giant salvinia was first identified in the Houston area in 1998, but was later discovered at Toledo Bend, the state’s largest body of water, the TWPD has said. It’s illegal to transport giant salvinia on boat trailers, motors or tanks used on boats for live bait or fish.
Texas Parks & Wildlife officials do not know the source of the infestation at Lake Fork Reservoir, suspecting the plants were likely introduced by a boat trailer.
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