Crested Floating Heart
Reservoir owners and operators in Southeast Texas are all familiar with the concept of non-native, or invasive, aquatic vegetation growing in their waters and the various management techniques available to help control their existence. Through close partnerships with local, state, and federal organizations, especially the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the Lake Conroe Division of the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) manages invasive aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other invasive species on the Lake Conroe Reservoir. In addition, the Division has developed a program to establish and maintain native vegetation across the reservoir and sustain a suitable fisheries habitat.
Lake Conroe invasive species efforts have historically targeted three primary species of plants: Hydrilla, Water Hyacinth, and Giant Salvinia. Hydrilla is a submerged and rooted plant that generally grows in shallow water. Water Hyacinth is a floating invasive species with large purple flowers that bloom in the summer. Giant Salvinia also floats freely on the surface of the water and resembles a fern. Each one of these plants presents its own unique challenges, but all three can cause serious environmental, as well as economic havoc on an aquatic environment. Countless hours have been spent to keep these three plants under control on Lake Conroe.
(Source: Phil Petunyia)
(Photo Source: Bugwood.org)
(Photo Source: texasfarmbureau.org)
There are numerous ways in which invasive plants can get introduced into a body of water. The most common way for this to happen is when a boat that was not properly cleaned, drained, and dried travels from an infested lake to a non-infested lake. Just like the zebra mussel, plants are simply transported via boat and trailer from one lake to the other.
Another common way in which non-native plants are introduced to a lake is through the aquarium or water garden industries. Unfortunately, many invasive species are actually quite beautiful to look at and, though illegal to possess, are relatively easy to purchase. Finding plants to stock these outdoor features is often as easy as a few clicks on the internet. There are many ways that garden plants can end up in a local body of water. Often it’s through disposal, but they can also be carried by animals such as birds and reptiles or rising waters during a storm.
Crested Floating Heart
Recently, a fourth invasive plant known as Crested Floating Heart has been identified in Lake Conroe. This is a rooted plant with heart-shaped leaves that float on the water’s surface. The plant was first identified on Lake Conroe in the headwaters of Little Lake Creek.
In the aquatic plant management world, the ability to positively identify plants is the single most important skill a manager can have. One must be able to distinguish between native plants and non-native plants at any time of season.
Crested Floating Heart
Crested Floating Heart is a rooted plant with heart-shaped leaves that float on the water’s surface.
One of the key indicators that allows aquatic plant managers to positively identify Crested Floating Heart is the distinct ridge that runs down the middle of its leaf petals.
(Photo Source: www.texasinvasives.org)
Banana Lily, a plant native to the Southeast United States, can easily be mistaken for Crested Floating Heart.
Banana lily is a perennial plant with leaves that arise from “banana-shaped” rhizomes on the long slender petioles
(Photo Source: plantsrescue.com)
In the case of Crested Floating Heart, this can prove to be a challenge as many native plants resemble Crested Floating Heart. In particular, Banana Lily, a plant native to the Southeast United States, can easily be mistaken for Crested Floating Heart. One of the key indicators that allows aquatic plant managers to positively identify Crested Floating Heart is the distinct ridge that runs down the middle of its leaf petals.
Fortunately, this plant has been positively identified and treatment has already started. The plant was identified on October 30, 2018, and technicians from the TPWD were on Lake Conroe on November 2, 2018, making the initial treatment applications. The treatment of choice is a relatively new herbicide that is safe for the environment and poses no threat to public safety, yet is highly effective on this invasive plant. Only specially-trained applicators are permited to purchase and apply this new product. Technicians with SJRA, in addition to local area contractors, are scheduling to be trained on this product, so that they too can join in the fight.
Erradicating an invasive plant like Crested Floating Heart is usually not possible on a body of water as large as Lake Conroe, but that is the goal of our efforts. What is more likely is that this plant will become a regular part of the on-going aquatic plant maintenance program for Lake Conroe.
Finally, a special warning to boaters. One of several ways that this plant can reproduce is through fragmentation. This means that if a piece of the plant is broken off by a boat propeller or some other means, it can float away and reestablish as an entirely new plant. For this reason, boaters and recreational enthusists on Lake Conroe should take special precaution not to damage plants if they see them. To learn more about this plant please visit:
Posted: Sunday, May 3, 2015 9:44 pm
The Lake Conroe Communities Network is in the process of garnering signatures for a petition urging the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District to suspend impending groundwater regulations that would go into effect in 2016.
The petition claims the regulations will cause a water deficit of 100,000 acre-feet per year by 2035 when factoring in Montgomery County population growth projections. They want the district to take time to study the viability and sustainability of using alternative methods of accessing water, including taking it from Lake Conroe.
The petition also calls upon the district to initiate other water conservation tactics instead of only cutting back on aquifer use. LCCN also wants LSGCD to distinguish the four aquifers under Montgomery County as such and not as one Gulf Coast Aquifer as LCCN claims.
“This is unprecedented as far as we’re concerned, to influence Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District through a petition,” LCCN President Scott Sustman said.
The network held a series of forums in Lake Conroe communities on April 27 and 28 introducing the petition and gaining support and signees.
“The petition deals with the economic viability, practicality and sustainability of alternative water sources,” Sustman said. “That’s actually right in the charter Lone Star Water Conservation District has, and before they constrict water usage from a particular source, they need to make sure that the alternative source is economically viable, ethical and sustainable.
“We feel there’s some question about that when they’re pointing to Lake Conroe potentially as an alternative water source because there’s a finite amount of water in Lake Conroe, and quite frankly, there’s more water in the aquifers than there is in Lake Conroe.”
Kathy Turner Jones, general manager for LSGCD, said the district has no intentions of delaying the implementation of the regulations on Jan. 1, 2016.
Jones said the district is performing studies to determine the impact of the 2016 regulations as well as the additional availability of groundwater.
“The current plan has adequate options for anticipated growth through 2070 and it will be under revision starting next year to incorporate revised population estimates,” Jones said. “Montgomery County will need to be able to draw upon a variety of diversified sources of raw water for future public needs and economic development. If additional groundwater is determined to be available it will be incorporated in the next planning round as a viable future supply.”
Jones also said the study the district is undertaking distinguishes the aquifers as separate strata and not as one “Gulf Coast Aquifer,” as does the Houston Area Groundwater Model.
LSGCD partakes in groundwater conservation education, Jones said, and it has fulfilled its statutorily mandated duties in doing so.
“The district has been active in promoting conservation for all entities within the county,” Jones said. “The district’s offices has (sic) many examples of conservation measures for outdoor water and rainwater harvesting as well as native plant landscaping for water savings. It has also assisted in the establishment of the Gulf Coast/Montgomery County Water Efficiency Network consisting of water professionals from around the region that meet regularly to share industry information and discuss conservation issues.”
The petition currently has over 400 signatures
For more information about the petition, visit www.lakeconroecn.com.