LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

This Update will cover two (2) significant topics; namely, LCA’s Annual Meeting for its Members held today and yesterday’s Advisory Committee Meeting held to provide input on the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

LCA ANNUAL MEETING:

Our Annual Meeting was held today at the offices of the San Jacinto River Authority. General information was provided to the attendees and questions were answered. A financial report was presented which summarized Income and Expense for the LCA for calendar year 2006. LCA Member voting was also completed (in conjunction with proxies submitted by Members through the mail) on the election of the 2007 LCA Board of Directors and proposed LCA By-Law revisions.

A brief summary of the LCA’s 2006 Cash Flow Statement (unaudited at this point) is listed as follows:

CASH, January 1, 2006 $24,989

Add 2006 Income:

Donations 205,634

Tee Shirt Sales and Interest Income 3,466

———

Total Income 209,100 209,100

======

Deduct 2006 Expenses:

White Amur Purchases 72,266

Fund Raising (Printing/Postage) 15,904

Administrative 2,372

———

Total Expenses 90,542 (90,542)

====== ———-

CASH, December 31, 2006 $143,547

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It should be noted that “Cash” at December 31, 2006 includes monies invested in Money Market Accounts earning interest at 4.7%. We are also pleased to report that our Administrative Expenses of $2,372 represent only 1% of our 2006 Total Income of $209,100 (primarily due to Directors working exclusively on a volunteer basis).

We would very much like to thank our 950+ Members for their generosity in our 2006 Fund Raising Campaign. And, while our $143,547 Cash Balance at December 31, 2006 is substantial, we must point out that the cost of successfully controlling hydrilla, giant salvinia and water hyacinth in 2007 may far outweigh our current funds. Accordingly, LCA Fund Raising diligently continues in 2007 from residents, businesses, and Federal, State and County sources.

With voting tabulated, we are pleased to announce your 2007 LCA Board of Directors as follows: Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, Stan Sproba, Colin Stead, Bernie Walling, Conrad Weil and Sue Wheatley (13 in all). Further, the LCA proposed changes to the LCA By-Laws were passed. A total of 259 proxies were received from our Members, or approximately 27% of the LCA Membership.

Subsequent to LCA Annual Meeting, the LCA Board conducted its Meeting to elect its Officers for 2007. Your 2007 LCA Officers are Mike Bleier (President), Colin Stead (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING ON 2007 LAKE CONROE AQUATIC VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN:

Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) (the two “Cooperators” under the Plan) held a Meeting yesterday at the offices of SJRA to discuss the Preliminary 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan. Seventeen (17) individuals representing residents, businesses and anglers (collectively referred to as “Stakeholders”) were invited to join TPWD and SJRA in comprising the 2007 Advisory Committee. A “draft” of the 2007 Plan was submitted to the Stakeholders, and comments were solicited. Much feedback was shared amongst the attendees, and this feedback will be utilized by the Cooperators to develop the next Draft of the 2007 Plan. The 2007 Advisory Committee will meet again in approximately three (3) weeks to review all changes made to the Plan, and final comments will be shared prior to the Cooperators issuing the Final 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

To briefly summarize where we stood at the end of 2006, the October, 2006 hydrilla survey conducted by TPWD estimated a total of 1,167 hydrilla infested acres. Grass carp called “White Amur” which have a particular appetite for hydrilla were re-introduced into Lake Conroe during 2006 in three (3) stockings, and an estimated 27,046 White Amur were feeding in Lake Conroe by year’s end. These stockings approximate a rate of twenty-three (23) white amur per infested hydrilla acre.

A particular concern for 2007 has been the status of 2,600 acres of lakebed which was dry during the Summer of 2006. Some portion of these 2,600 acres were infested with hydrilla in 2005, and the likelihood that they become re-infested now that the Lake has risen to its normal level again is high.

This Update will cover two (2) significant topics; namely, LCA’s Annual Meeting for its Members held today and yesterday’s Advisory Committee Meeting held to provide input on the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

 

LCA ANNUAL MEETING:

Our Annual Meeting was held today at the offices of the San Jacinto River Authority.  General information was provided to the attendees and questions were answered.  A financial report was presented which summarized Income and Expense for the LCA for calendar year 2006.  LCA Member voting was also completed (in conjunction with proxies submitted by Members through the mail) on the election of the 2007 LCA Board of Directors and proposed LCA By-Law revisions.

 

A brief summary of the LCA’s 2006 Cash Flow Statement (unaudited at this point) is listed as follows:

 

CASH,January 1, 2006                                                       $24,989

 

Add 2006 Income:

Donations                                                  205,634

Tee Shirt Sales and Interest Income             3,466

———

Total Income                                     209,100         209,100

======

Deduct 2006 Expenses:

White Amur Purchases                               72,266

Fund Raising (Printing/Postage)                 15,904

Administrative                                              2,372

———

Total Expenses                                    90,542         (90,542)

======        ———-

 

CASH,December 31, 2006                                                $143,547

======

It should be noted that “Cash” atDecember 31, 2006includes monies invested in Money Market Accounts earning interest at 4.7%.  We are also pleased to report that our Administrative Expenses of $2,372 represent only 1% of our 2006 Total Income of $209,100 (primarily due to Directors working exclusively on a volunteer basis).

We would very much like to thank our 950+ Members for their generosity in our 2006 Fund Raising Campaign.  And, while our $143,547 Cash Balance atDecember 31, 2006is substantial, we must point out that the cost of successfully controlling hydrilla, giant salvinia and water hyacinth in 2007 may far outweigh our current funds.  Accordingly, LCA Fund Raising diligently continues in 2007 from residents, businesses, and Federal, State and County sources.

With voting tabulated, we are pleased to announce your 2007 LCA Board of Directors as follows:  Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson, Stan Sproba, Colin Stead, Bernie Walling, Conrad Weil and Sue Wheatley (13 in all).  Further, the LCA proposed changes to the LCA By-Laws were passed.  A total of 259 proxies were received from our Members, or approximately 27% of the LCA Membership.

Subsequent to LCA Annual Meeting, the LCA Board conducted its Meeting to elect its Officers for 2007.  Your 2007 LCA Officers are Mike Bleier (President), Colin Stead (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).

ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING ON 2007LAKECONROEAQUATIC VEGETATION MANAGEMENT PLAN:

Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) and the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) (the two “Cooperators” under the Plan) held a Meeting yesterday at the offices of SJRA to discuss the Preliminary 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.  Seventeen (17) individuals representing residents, businesses and anglers (collectively referred to as “Stakeholders”) were invited to join TPWD and SJRA in comprising the 2007 Advisory Committee.  A “draft” of the 2007 Plan was submitted to the Stakeholders, and comments were solicited.  Much feedback was shared amongst the attendees, and this feedback will be utilized by the Cooperators to develop the next Draft of the 2007 Plan.  The 2007 Advisory Committee will meet again in approximately three (3) weeks to review all changes made to the Plan, and final comments will be shared prior to the Cooperators issuing the Final 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan.

To briefly summarize where we stood at the end of 2006, the October, 2006 hydrilla survey conducted by TPWD estimated a total of 1,167 hydrilla infested acres.  Grass carp called “White Amur” which have a particular appetite for hydrilla were re-introduced intoLakeConroeduring 2006 in three (3) stockings, and an estimated 27,046 White Amur were feeding inLakeConroeby year’s end.  These stockings approximate a rate of twenty-three (23) white amur per infested hydrilla acre.

A particular concern for 2007 has been the status of 2,600 acres of lakebed which was dry during the Summer of 2006.  Some portion of these 2,600 acres were infested with hydrilla in 2005, and the likelihood that they become re-infested now that theLakehas risen to its normal level again is high.

Having provided this brief background, please find my notes on key points discussed in the Advisory Committee Meeting yesterday (in no order of significance):

  1. TPWD conducted a survey in January, 2007 of the previously dry lakebed in an effort to quantify the number of acres infested with hydrilla since theLakerose to its standard level of 201 feet above sea level.  They estimated that 700 acres of this previously dry lakebed has initiated hydrilla re-growth through “tubers” that can survive dry conditions for reportedly up to seven (7) years.
  2. TPWD proposed to permit the addition of 10,000 White Amur in February, 2007 to proactively address these newly infested acres and the ongoing mortality of the 27,046 White Amur introduced in 2006 (White Amur have an estimated mortality of 30% annually).   The LCA applauds this proactive approach by the Cooperators.  The cost of these White Amur will be shared equally by SJRA and the LCA, and TPWD has waived its $2/fish permitting fee for 2007 (and, hopefully, beyond).
  3. TPWD proposes to conduct its next lake-wide aquatic vegetation survey in March, 2007.  Should this survey conclude that hydrilla growth is not being reduced as expected by cool Winter water temperatures and the hydrilla-eating White Amur introduced during 2006, additional White Amur would be permitted and added during April, 2007 (always subject to availability from the hatcheries).
  4. Similar aquatic vegetation surveys would be conducted in May, 2007, July, 2007 and September, 2007.  If deemed necessary by the Cooperators, additional White Amur would be added in the month after each survey.
  5. Should hydrilla growth exceed forecasts based on historic data, TPWD may consider raising the stocking rate of White Amur from 23 fish/acre to a higher number/acre.
  6. As in the 2006 Plan, the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan calls for the reduction of hydrilla-infested acres to “40 acres or less by March, 2008”.  The Cooperators and Stakeholders are all committed to achieving this goal, and are prepared to stock additional White Amur as needed to reach this goal.  To supplement the budget available to SJRA for aquatic plant management, the LCA has committed to raise whatever monies are necessary to achieve the goal of “40 acres or less by March, 2008”.  Once the goal of reducing hydrilla to “40 acres or less” is accomplished, the ongoing plan will be to keep hydrilla permanently below 40 acres.  It should be further noted that “40 acres or less” of hydrilla is intended to remain primarily in the uninhabited, northern portion of the Lake and not in the highly populated used southern portion of theLake.
  7. The Cooperators are considering further herbicide treatments in March or April, 2007 to attack, in particular, the new hydrilla growing in the previously dry lakebed.  Herbicides can be very effective at reducing hydrilla tuber regeneration.  The use of herbicides on hydrilla is often criticized as a “waste of money” since they typically only “burn back” the growth and do not “kill” the hydrilla plant.  Successful hydrilla treatment proposals typically present a dual approach of White Amur coupled with herbicides.  Think of it this way…..if the herbicides can reduce the overall biomass of hydrilla in theLake(even temporarily), then the White Amur have less hydrilla to consume and can reduce the total hydrilla to a more acceptable level more quickly.  Herbicide treatments for hydrilla beyond April, 2007 are also a possibility.
  8.  Regarding the question “Are any of the 27,046 White Amur still alive?”, there is no evidence to the contrary.  White Amur were not seen dying upon introduction into theLake.  There have not been reports of dead, floating White Amur on the surface or shores of ourLake.  The 12 – 14 inch White Amur were large enough at introduction to theLaketo avoid significant predication by large bass or other fish.  The real truth to this question will not be known until detailed surveys are completed in March and May, 2007, and results show the success or failure of the White Amur to reduce our hydrilla infestation.
  9. TPWD estimates that Giant Salvinia covers between 150 – 300 acres of ourLakethrough a diverse spread of small infestations (and an estimated 40 acre infestation in Little Lake Creek).  Giant Salvinia can double in size every 2 -3 days, and is a far more serious problem than hydrilla if not controlled.  The Cooperators plan to continue the treatment of Giant Salvinia through their dual approach of herbicides and biological controls (weevils).  The 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan calls for the reduction of Giant Salvinia to “40 acres or less by March, 2008”.
  10. It was noted in our Meeting that many lake users may not know that White Amur are protected in our State.  In the event that you inadvertently catch a White Amur, you are obligated by law to “catch and release”.  Game Wardens onLakeConroeare aware of this law and actively checking fishing boats for White Amur.  Should you be found guilty of catching (and not releasing immediately) White Amur onLakeConroe, you will be subject to significant fines and other penalties.
  11. Are you seeing significant quantities of hydrilla washing up on your shore?  It’s appearance may look like what many commonly refer to as “sea weed” (long, thin strands….not as bright green as in the Summer….and lacking the leaf quantity as in the Summer).  Chances are that this IS hydrilla which has been damaged during our Winter storms.  Hydrilla has a natural “die back” during the winter and becomes less healthy.  Our rise inLakelevel and fierce storm waves have damaged much hydrilla so far this Winter, and many shorelines are covered with this “mess”.  Most likely, you’re seeing hydrilla stems that have broken loose from underwater hydrilla “mats”, and this debris will rot and disappear eventually.  Some portion of this fragmented hydrilla can “root” later.
  12. The rains have pounded us once again.  As an FYI, the highestLakelevel this week reached a level of 202.86 feet (above sea level).  SJRA is actively letting water out of the dam to reach its mandated level of 201.0 feet.  Today’sLakelevel is 201.97 feet.
  13. The LCA has recommended Public Meetings in 2007 to keep everyone abreast of theLakeinfestation.  We felt that our Public Meeting in 2006 was a necessary tool to keep you informed and give you a forum to voice your concerns.  Dates have not yet been set for these Meetings.

That’s it for now.  We’ll provide additional information as it comes to us.  Thank you for supporting the LCA and taking an active interest in the health of ourLakeConroe.

Mike