LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) completed its May, 2007 Hydrilla Survey for Lake Conroe and reported its results (and proposed actions) today at a meeting between TPWD, the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) and several local residents and businessmen who round out the team who meet every two months to discuss TPWD surveys. TPWD reported its first decline in Hydrilla on Lake Conroe since 1996, and accounted for this success by the combined program of White Amur grass carp and herbicides over the past year. While the March, 2007 survey reported an estimated 1,870 infested Hydrilla acres, the May, 2007 survey reports an estimated 1,380 infested Hydrilla acres….a reduction of 490 acres, or 26%.

Based on this reported information, TPWD does not recommend the addition of further White Amur at this time. TPWD stated that should their July, 2007 survey indicate an increase in the number of Hydrilla infested acres from the May, 2007 total, they would then recommend an appropriate White Amur stocking to recognize the increase.

TPWD stated that they have applied consistent principles in calculating the number of Hydrilla infested acres throughout each survey, and that they have checked their GPS (Global Positioning System) data carefully to assure the accuracy of the data. They feel very confident in the accuracy of this and previous surveys. They are pleased to have directly observed reduction of specific Hydrilla “mats” by the feeding activity of White Amur, and such observations have been noted by SJRA personnel as well.

In an effort to present comparable data between the March, 2007 and May, 2007 surveys, SJRA did not apply Hydrilla herbicides during this period (which would have driven down the May, 2007 survey and tainted reported results). Any herbicide applications observed during this two (2) month period were being applied to Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth, and were herbicides which did not affect Hydrilla. Subsequent to the completion of the May, 2007 survey, Hydrilla herbicide applications have commenced.

“BUT THE HYDRILLA LOOKS MUCH WORSE NOW THAN IT DID IN MARCH.”

“HAVE YOU DRIVEN OVER THE BRIDGES AT LITTLE LAKE CREEK OR LEWIS CREEK? HOW CAN YOU TELL ME IT’S GETTING BETTER SINCE MARCH?”

“YOU OBVIOUSLY DON’T DO YOUR SURVEYS AROUND ANY OF OUR BOAT DOCKS BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN GET OUT OF MY BOAT SLIP, AND I COULD GET MY BOAT OUT IN MARCH.”

I was right there with you in ALL of these comments. I live on Lake Conroe, am very upset about the condition of our Lake. I would have guaranteed you that the survey results would show an increase in the number of Hydrilla infested acres. The LCA was thoroughly prepared to fight for more White Amur when those results were presented.

The explanation provided by TPWD and SJRA in response to “THEN WHY DOES IT STILL LOOK SO BAD?” focuses primarily on the fact that White Amur (and fish in general) prefer the cooler water during our warm months. TPWD and SJRA report that the White Amur are eating the Hydrilla from the deeper water and moving closer to the shoreline as each week passes. I’d have to say that the reasoning makes sense.

“SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO PROVIDE SOME RELIEF FOR ALL OF US ENDURING THE HYDRILLA AT OUR BOAT DOCKS AND IN THE SHALLOWER WATERS OF THE LAKE?”

The treatment proposal presented calls for significant Hydrilla herbicide applications throughout the Summer and Fall….to be applied from the infested shoreline outward. The approach would intend to provide immediate relief and decrease the overall amount of Hydrilla that the White Amur must ultimately consume. As cooler temperatures return to our shallower waters, the White Amur should continue their eating towards our shorelines and reduce the Hydrilla infestation to “40 acres or less by March, 2008” (the Lake Conroe Hydrilla Management Plan and Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan objectives).

Obviously, this entire proposal hinges on the accuracy of the TPWD survey. The LCA has requested that TPWD provide its survey data for March, 2007 and May, 2007 to the LCA for verification, and TPWD has agreed (and, in fact, the first electronic data was received from TPWD this evening….with the balance to come tomorrow). With this data, we intend to identify the significant locations where Hydrilla reduction has been observed by TPWD. SJRA has agreed to provide us with an aerial flyover to review these specific locations and confirm the reduction of Hydrilla. Further, watercraft will be utilized by the LCA to verify similar data and get a view directly from the Lake. The LCA (to the best of its ability) hopes to report that the survey data does indeed support the conclusion that we are experiencing a reduction in Lake Conroe’s Hydrilla infestation….news that would be wonderful to all of us. We hope to provide that opinion to you within one week.

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SELECTED 2007 SURVEY DATA:

Little Lake Creek…..677 acres March, 592 acres May

Lewis Creek…..267 acres March, 274 acres May

Caney Creek…..657 acres March, 372 acres May

Atkins Creek…..101 acres March, 3 acres May

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HYDRILLA HERBICIDE APPLICATIONS:

Herbicides being used include Aquathol K spray, Aquathol K granular and Sonar, and have been applied for approximately two weeks now. SJRA has two sprayboat crews out currently. Now that the TPWD survey is completed and personnel have been freed up, TPWD has committed one sprayboat crew. An outside contractor with one sprayboat crew has now been hired to assist as well (although they are committed to spraying Lake Conroe’s Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth for the next four weeks….see below), and this contractor MAY become available to be hired by individual homeowners or businesses for herbicide treatment of their specific property at the homeowner’s or business’ cost. You should note that Hydrilla herbicide applications will typically occur on Monday through Wednesday….allowing a couple of days (as recommended by herbicide manufacturers) before high weekend Lake use by swimmers, anglers and watercraft users

The projected cost of Hydrilla herbicide treatment has not been established for 2007, but estimates will place that amount well over $300,000 in our opinion. Projections are being developed. Expenditures for Hydrilla herbicide treatments will be limited, ultimately, by the amount of available funds from SJRA, Montgomery County and LCA donations.

The LCA will not spend all of its resources on herbicides alone. LCA monies will be set aside as a contingency for future White Amur stockings which may be required should Hydrilla infestation once again increase, and which will be required to account for ongoing White Amur mortality.

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GIANT SALVINIA AND WATER HYACINTH HERBICIDE APPLICATIONS:

Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth often live together in the same areas. Giant Salvinia is being controlled reasonably well, but Water Hyacinth has aggressively returned this year. Overall, a combined 250 acres of the weeds has been estimated.

Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth have been treated earlier in the year by SJRA at the most highly infested locations. For the next four (4) weeks, an independent contractor has been hired by SJRA to exclusively treat all 250 acres of this infestation (thereby allowing the SJRA spray crews to dedicate their efforts on Hydrilla). This four (4) week treatment is estimated to cost $52,000, and the cost will be shared equally by SJRA and the LCA. Further treatments will occur throughout the year as needed.

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WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM?

If I were a good Fund Raiser, I would probably open this LCA President’s Update with this section….but I thought the information needed to be presented first. SJRA has and will fund White Amur and herbicides up to its budget for Aquatic Plant Management for Lake Conroe. The LCA successfully requested an increase in funding from Montgomery County from $25,000 previously to $100,000 for the year ending August 31, 2007. Presently, ALL OTHER FUNDING MUST COME FROM THE LCA THROUGH THE GENEROUS DONATIONS OF ITS RESIDENT AND BUSINESS MEMBERS.

THE LCA 2007 FUND RAISING GOAL HAS BEEN SET AT $240,000. Residential Fund Raising Letters have been mailed to over 13,000 homes in the Lake Conroe area during the past four (4) weeks, and we are so appreciative to our Residential Members who have contributed in excess of $60,000 in these first four (4) weeks. A Business Fund Raising Program has been initiated to raise awareness within the Lake Conroe business community outlining the importance of a healthy Lake Conroe to the success of local businesses, and we thank the local businesses who have generously supported us through donations in excess of $20,000 during these past four (4) weeks. WILL YOU BE SENDING YOUR CHECK SOON TO FUND THE $160,000 OR MORE STILL NEEDED BY THE LCA THIS YEAR? WE SURELY NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW!!!

The LCA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization and your Residential or Business contribution should be tax deductible (please consult with your financial advisor). Historically, ninety-six percent (96%) of all monies contributed to the LCA are utilized for the purchase of White Amur and herbicides and their related fund raising costs. The LCA is audited every two (2) years.

Contributions can be mailed to Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378-9998. To become a Residential or Business Member of the LCA for 2007, please make your minimum contribution of $100 or $300, respectively. Of course, contributions of any dollar amount will be graciously appreciated.

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GOT ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ?:

You can always reach us through our LCA Website at “lakeconroeassociation.com”.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND WE WILL UPDATE YOU NEXT WEEK WITH OUR REVIEW OF TPWD’S MAY, 2007 HYDRILLA SURVEY RESULTS. UNTIL THEN, ENJOY THE LAKE AND BE SAFE.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association