LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

On May 6, 2009, the Seven Coves Bass Club, in conjunction with Texas Parks & Wildlife, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the San Jacinto River Authority, presented information regarding the planting of “native plants” in Lake Conroe.  As the majority of the LCA Board attended this meeting and gained information, we thought we should share this information with you.

The “Lake Conroe Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan” for 2008-2009 outlines the need to reduce invasive species such as Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth as well as maintain a healthy native plant community.  This Plan was developed by Texas Parks & Wildlife and the San Jacinto River Authority, and similar Plans have been in place since the return of Hydrilla some 7-8 years ago.

“Native plants” are an important part of ourLake’s ecosystem.  Without “native plants”, we experience lake bank erosion and increased sedimentation.  “Native plants” utilize nutrients in our Lake which would otherwise be used by invasive species or fast-growing algae.  “Native plants” also provide oxygen needed by healthy fish communities.

Given sunlight, warm temperatures, nutrients and shallow waters, some form of plant life is always going to grow in ourLake.  With the reduction of Hydrilla from over 2,000 acres to virtually no acres and Giant Salvinia from over 628 acres to approximately 150 acres and Water Hyacinth from over 335 acres to approximately 50 acres, some form of plant life is going to move into the space vacated by these reduced invasive plant species.  The question for us is “What plants do we want in ourLake?”.  It would seem obvious that we do not want invasive species to again take over our Lake.  A healthy native plant community, in conjunction with a “maintenance level” of White Amur grass carp and herbicide applications as needed, is the answer to holding back the “invasive plants”.

“Native plants” have been added to ourLakefor the past 25 years.  If you visit the northern end of theLake, you’d have seen them protected by metal cages or fences in small coves.  Since the addition of over 123,000 White Amur grass carp over the past 3 years to battle the invasion of Hydrilla, the “native plant” community has dramatically reduced from 1,078 acres in 2007 to 140 acres in 2008.  A survey is currently being undertaken by Texas Parks & Wildlife to estimate the number of acres of “native plants” as well as Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth.  It is anticipated that the number of acres of “native plants” will show a further decrease.

The Seven Coves Bass Club grows “native plants” in a nursery located near the dam at the San Jacinto River Authority facility.  Seedlings are obtained from theLewisville,TexasResearch Facility and grown in contained water gardens until they can be separated (split in two).  One half of the plant stays in the nursery (for further propagation) and the second half is planted in the northern, uninhabited portions of the Lake in protective cages.  Over time, these “native plants” expand by either colonization around the cage site or by seed dispersion.  1,200 “native plants” were placed in ourLakein 2008, and an estimated 4,500 will be added in 2009.  To put this in perspective, 4,500 plants will cover approximately one quarter of an acre of shoreline.  As stated by Texas Parks & Wildlife, “It may take 3 to 5 years until we see noticeable vegetation outside of the cages due to the slow growing rate of these natives.”

The “native plants” utilized are preferably grass carp resistant (meaning the grass carp prefer not to eat them).  “Natives” being utilized under this program include American Pondweed, Illinois Pondweed, Wild Celery (Vallisneria), Water Stargrass, Coontail, White Water Lily, Spatterdock, Watershield, American Lotus, Bulltongue, Arrowhead, Pickerelweed, Water Willow, Softstem Bulrush, Flatstem Spikerush, Squarestem Spikerush, Slender Spikerush and Maidencane.  As the Lake Conroe Association is not familiar with each plant, we are currently undertaking a study to better understand each plant and its characteristics.  In particular, we are interested in understanding the growth rate of each species and how it may disperse along our shorelines in the future.  We will have dialogue with the Seven Coves Bass Club, Texas Parks & Wildlife and the San Jacinto River Authority regarding these issues.  We will release our findings and summaries of these dialogues to our LCA Members in future correspondence.

Not to get “the horse before the cart”, but Texas Parks & Wildlife has stated that they will issue permits to homeowners (through licensed applicators) for herbicide treatments to kill “native plants” which grow at your boat dock and limit your access to the Lake….should this even happen.  Such treatments would be at the expense of the homeowner.  Texas Parks & Wildlife has selected these specific “native plants” not only because they may be grass carp resistant but also because they typically do not act in an invasive manner and create access issues for lake users.  We will all be closely observing the behavior of these “native plants” in the future.

With Hydrilla almost gone and an estimated 70,000 grass carp still alive in Lake Conroe, the issue of “Should grass carp start being harvested from theLake?” has arisen.  Texas Parks & Wildlife commits to keeping a “maintenance level” of grass carp in Lake Conroe“forever” and won’t consider any harvesting of grass carp until it completes its current survey of levels of “native plants”, Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Giant Salvinia.  Should Texas Parks & Wildlife determine they desire to harvest grass carp, they propose to do so only through licensed grass carp tournaments (typically via bow and arrow) (and assumed by me to be only in uninhabited shorelines) which may harvest 30 – 40 grass carp per tournament (not “per person”….”per tournament”) based on previous results of Texas Parks & Wildlife grass carp tournaments.  We’ll further address this topic should it actually be proposed by Texas Parks & Wildlife.

I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you again with all of my detail, but the Lake Conroe Association Board feels that part of our job is to keep you informed.  I’ll write again soon when we have more information to share.  Until then, you may share your thoughts with us through our website at “lakeconroeassociation.com”.  Enjoy your Summer use of the Lake Conroe and remember to always be careful on the Lake.

Mike Bleier, President

LakeConroeAssociation

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Have you been enjoying the warm sun of Summer and open waters of Lake Conroe? I certainly hope so given the Lake conditions over the past two years. In a meeting last night of Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), anglers and the Lake Conroe Association (LCA), TPWD reported that Hydrilla has been reduced to a total of 2.5 acres based on its June, 2008 survey. What a change from the 2,033 acres reported as recently as January, 2008 !! The 103,883 White Amur grass carp estimated to be alive currently are certainly doing their job.

Regarding other “exotic, invasive plants” on our Lake, TPWD reported an increase of Giant Salvinia from 225 acres in July, 2007 to 283 acres in May, 2008. As Giant Salvinia grows so rapidly and White Amur do not particularly enjoy eating this plant, SJRA will continue to attack this plant through herbicide applications. TPWD also reported that Water Hyacinth decreased from 337 acres in July, 2007 to 106 acres in May, 2008. Given the reduction and that White Amur appear to be eating Water Hyacinth, herbicide treatments of Water Hyacinth will be ceased until an increasing trend is observed.

With July through September being the peak growing season for our various lake plants, TPWD will continue performing surveys to monitor and calculate the quantity of Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth in our Lake. Surveys will be performed in August and October, 2008. Should the current trend of “exotic, invasive plants” continue to decrease in 2008, TPWD estimates it will perform two (2) surveys in 2009. And while the survey results are very positive now, TPWD issued a “word of caution” that we need to continue to gather data to be sure Hydrilla doesn’t come back.

In the category of “not good news”, “native plants” have been reported to decrease from 1,077 acres in July, 2007 to 151 acres in May, 2008. As occurred in the early 1980’s, it appears that the White Amur are moving from the decimated Hydrilla population to our “native plants” as their source of nutrition (with Coontail, Joint Grass, Lilies and Lotus representing the “natives” currently left in the Lake). This is not good news for any lake. Learning from this specific Hydrilla infestation on Lake Conroe and the related treatment response, TPWD assured all that any future Hydrilla infestations on Lake Conroe warranting treatment would be “hit hard and hit early”. Utilizing a stocking rate of approximately 55 fish/acre early in the infestation, TPWD would hope to solve the infestation quickly, not infuse an excessive amount of White Amur and protect the “native” plants.

As a matter of definition, a significant distinction is made between plants referred to as “native” versus “exotic”. “Native” plants occur naturally in our ecosystem, and their expansion is kept in check by fish, insects, herbivores and invertebrates eating them as a food source in the overall food chain. “Exotic” plants have been brought in from elsewhere, and the ecosystem doesn’t reduce their expansion as they are not fed upon by these same fish, insects, herbivores and invertebrates. In effect, the growth and expansion of “exotic” plants goes unchecked until affected by outside forces (introduction of White Amur or herbicides).

It is important to understand the need for “native” plants in a lake. Most directly, “natives” help control erosion of shorelines, reduce silt flow from streams, filter and clarify water, provide excellent fish habitat, and provide for a healthy ecosystem to support water fowl and other wildlife. By providing these direct benefits, “native” plants indirectly contribute to a healthy local economy by encouraging tourism to our area for fishing, bird watching and the overall enjoyment of a healthy lake. The loss of “native” plants (as compared to the “exotic” plants we have fought so strongly) would be devastating to the Lake Conroe community.

As you may have already heard, TPWD, SJRA and anglers have initiated a program for re-vegetation and native plant restoration on Lake Conroe. Seven Coves Bass Club is an active leader in this program. “Native” plants are being grown in a controlled environment in our Lake with the objective of relocating them throughout the uninhabited shorelines of Lake Conroe when those nursery plants are mature enough to be moved. Three (3) primary categories of plants are being grown in this program as follows:

· Submergents (majority of plant is under the water) – Coontail, Water Primrose, Variable Leaf Milfoil and Wild Celery

· Emergents (majority of plant is out of the water) – Cattail, Bulrush, Sedge, Maiden Cane and Water Willow.

· Floating Leaved (leaves float on surface) – Spatterdock, Water Lily and American Lotus.

Only “native” plants are being used for this re-vegetation project, and only “natives” that are the most resistant to feeding by White Amur. In the approximate 800 Texas lakes over 75 surface acres each, TPWD reports that in no case did the “natives” create major problems. The LCA has requested contact information related to Property Owner Associations representing some of these 800 Texas lakes to ask about the success of these “native” plantings.

Specifics to this Lake Conroe 2008 re-vegetation project include:

· Not greater than 3 acres of “native” plants will be introduced over the next 5 – 10 years.

· TPWD hopes that these 3 acres will ultimately spread by seed production to approximately 10% of our Lake, or 2,000 acres.

· “Native” plants will be planted along uninhabited shoreline primarily North of the 1097 bridge. They will not plant in front of a residence.

· Should these “native” plants re-propagate in front of a residence, TPWD has agreed to issue permits to the lakefront owner so that the owner can hire a contractor to spray or otherwise eradicate the “natives” in front of the residence (at the expense of the resident). Should the problem be excessive or out-of-control, TPWD and SJRA have stated they may consider cost-sharing with the resident owner.

· It is unlikely that bulkheaded shoreline will re-propagate through seeds due to the excessive wave action and deeper water (“natives” like shallow water).

· The LCA has not been asked to share in the cost of this re-vegetation project.

The LCA has questioned TPWD’s goal of reaching 2,000 acres of “natives”. Lake Conroe is reported by anglers to have been an excellent fishing lake with the 1,077 acres of “natives” reported in July, 2007, so the LCA doesn’t understand a goal of 2,000 acres, or 10% of Lake Conroe’s surface acres. TPWD feels their goal is appropriate. As only 3 acres of “natives” are actually being planted and all further growth must occur over time by seed re-generation, the LCA feels it has stated its concern and will follow “native” growth throughout the future.

TPWD commits to continue the control of “exotic” plants on Lake Conroe (such as Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth…..or any new “exotic” which may appear in our future). TPWD has assured the LCA that the presence of these newly planted “natives” will not be used as an excuse to avoid the use of White Amur in the future. TPWD points out that the Lake Conroe Aquatic Plant Management Plan called for 1) the reduction of Hydrilla to 40 acres or less by March, 2008 (which it did achieve by June, 2008), and 2) the continued establishment of a healthy “native” plant community. TPWD has asked the LCA and its Members for the support of this “native” plant re-vegetation project.

Having evaluated the information presented and the benefits of a healthy “native” plant population on Lake Conroe, and knowing the LCA will closely monitor the activities of this re-vegetation plan, the LCA and its Board of Directors has determined it supports the concept of the re-vegetation program as outlined (while expressing concern over certain plan specifics as noted above). No monies contributed by our LCA Members for the purchase of White Amur or herbicide applications will be contributed to this re-vegetation project, but rather those monies will be held by the LCA for future treatments of “exotic” plants when the need arises.

We hope that you, too, can get behind this re-vegetation program and concur that “native” plants are an important part of our Lake ecosystem and economy. We thank TPWD, SJRA and the angling community for their efforts so far regarding re-vegetation, and the LCA looks forward to working with them in the future. As always, we welcome your questions and feedback at www: lakeconroeassociation.com.

Thank you for listening. Enjoy a beautiful Summer on the Lake.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Good day to all Lake Conroe residents and users. The LCA thought it time to provide you with an update on the Aquatic Plant Management status of the Lake.

2007 LAKE CONROE AQUATIC PLANT MANAGEMENT PLAN:

After numerous meetings between Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) and seventeen (17) representatives from residents, businesses and anglers, the 2007 Lake Conroe Aquatic Plant Management Plan has been finalized. The LCA endorses the basic approach of the Plan and its goals. Should you desire to read the Plan, the Plan is being added to our LCA website at “www: lakeconroeassociation.com”.

A key element of this Plan is its approach to deal with not only Hydrilla but also Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth (whereas the prior year’s Plan only dealt with Hydrilla). All of these noxious weeds pose a threat to our Lake.

The two (2) primary elements of the Plan deal with treatment options and timelines for action. For the discussion of specific treatment options, please refer to the Plan and subsequent discussion in this Update. To provide you information on “timelines for action”, please see the following (which includes current timetables as of this morning):

· Monday, March 19…..TPWD initiates its first 2007 survey of infested acres (weather permitting). The survey will take about a week. Data gathered will determine if additional white amur are to be added at this time.

· Week of March 19……SJRA initiates herbicide applications for Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth (weather permitting). This herbicide application will be cost-shared 50/50 between SJRA and the LCA.

· May…….TPWD conducts its second survey of infested acres. Data gathered will determine if additional white amur are to be added in June.

· July……TPWD conducts its third survey of infested acres. Data gathered will determine if additional white amur are to be added in August.

· September……TPWD conducts its final 2007 survey of infested acres. Data gathered will determine if additional white amur are to be added in October.

· September, 2007……date at which the Plan commits to have Giant Salvinia reduced to 40 acres or less (with no more than 5 contiguous acres). The latest survey estimated 300 acres of Giant Salvinia (which, under ideal growing conditions, doubles in mass every four days).

· March, 2008……date at which the Plan commits to have Hydrilla reduced to 40 acres or less. The latest survey (Sept, 2006) estimated 1,167 infested acres plus TPWD estimates that 700 acres of previously dry lakebed (in Sept, 2006) are now infested.

TREATMENT OF HYDRILLA:

Hydrilla will be treated using both White Amur and herbicides. While many residents and lake users prefer a treatment program which utilizes “more white amur now and no herbicides”, the Plan does not call for this approach.

White Amur will be added based on future TPWD surveys of infested acres. As you are aware, there is grave concern over the introduction of too many White Amur which may, once all Hydrilla is eaten, eat other native vegetation in the Lake (similar to what happened 25 years ago). TPWD will remain environmentally conservative in this approach to protect the Lake’s native vegetation. Having said this, in order for TPWD and SJRA to achieve the Plan objective of “40 acres or less of Hydrilla infested acres by March, 2008”, one of two things must happen. First, the White Amur already in the Lake would have to be sufficient to reduce Hydrilla (as proven through surveys). Or second, more White Amur will need to be added. SJRA and the LCA will cost-share the purchase of these White Amur on a 50/50 basis.

Herbicides will also be used to combat Hydrilla. Use of a product called “Sonar” may be used in cove-type areas where the product will not dissipate easily into the main body of the Lake (only 100 to 200 of infested Hydrilla acres of the Lake fit this description). This product takes 45 to 60 days of “contact time” to be effective; but when effective, actually kills both Hydrilla and Giant Salvinia by eliminating their ability to conduct photosynthesis.

More common to our Lake, a product called “Aquathol” will be used to “burn back” Hydrilla. This product provides almost-immediate results in removing “topped-out Hydrilla”, but does not kill the plant. This product has been used historically to clear access to the main body of the Lake and around boat docks. “Aquathol” will be used to reduce the total mass of Hydrilla in the Lake so that the White Amur have less Hydrilla to eat and, theoretically, can control Hydrilla faster and more effectively. Again, TPWD and SJRA endorse an approach of White Amur plus herbicides rather than introducing too many White Amur (and the potential effects on native vegetation).

Historically, SJRA has paid for herbicides. While the LCA understands the use of herbicides in treating Hydrilla and their potential value, we continue to evaluate the high cost of herbicides versus the addition of more White Amur. SJRA has requested the LCA to become a 50/50 cost-share partner in the purchase of herbicides, and the LCA has requested that SJRA provide the LCA with a cost estimate based on monies spent on herbicides last year by SJRA and projected for this year. The LCA cannot agree to cost-share on herbicides for the treatment of Hydrilla until it can evaluate these projected costs and make its own decision on whether these are monies well spent on behalf of our LCA members. This information will be available in the next couple of weeks.

IF YOU CATCH A WHITE AMUR, YOU MUST “RELEASE”:

In the event that you inadvertently catch a White Amur, the law states that you must “release” that White Amur immediately. Anyone caught by Game Wardens with White Amur on board their boat is subject to significant fines and penalties. In an effort to raise awareness of this issue and protect the White Amur you have helped to purchase, a Signage Campaign has been initiated to state the law and assist anglers in identifying a White Amur. TPWD will prepare the signage, and such signage will be posted at boat launches and marinas. Costs for this signage will be shared by TPWD, SJRA, the LCA and Texas BASS Federation (largest angling organization in Texas).

TREATMENT OF GIANT SALVINIA:

Giant Salvinia has not received the same attention level on Lake Conroe as has Hydrilla. Most likely, individuals do not focus as much on things that they cannot see (or, at least, see easily). With Hydrilla encroaching on your boat dock or hindering your ability to navigate through and enjoy the Lake, it’s only natural that Hydrilla has received the majority of the public’s and LCA’s attention. The LCA’s objective would be the reduction of Giant Salvinia to less than one acre by the end of the year.

Under ideal growing conditions, Giant Salvinia can DOUBLE in mass EVERY FOUR DAYS. Giant Salvinia was estimated to cover 300 acres in the Fall of 2006. Imagine if you will, a plant (again, under ideal growing conditions) covering 300 acres on April 1 which becomes 600 acres on April 5… which becomes 1,200 acres on April 9…. which becomes 2,400 acres on April 13. In this example, it only took 8 days to produce more infested Giant Salvinia acres than the total infested Hydrilla acres we had last year (1,167 acres in September, 2006). Giant Salvinia is a terrible, invasive, exotic plant which could destroy our Lake much faster than Hydrilla.

Why haven’t all of us been focusing on Giant Salvinia? The answer lies in its location. Giant Salvinia has primarily resided in the northern-most, uninhabited waters of Lake Conroe where waters are extremely shallow. With no inhabitants to be bothered by the plant and almost zero access by boat (or air boat), Giant Salvinia did not appear to present a direct threat to most of us. Further, the plant was “trapped” in its shallow waters with very little room to expand and limited nutrients and sunlight to utilize in its small space. This is not to say that Giant Salvinia hasn’t caused problems for lakefront residents as well, but such problems were limited (unless, of course, “your” lakefront was infested).

Why are we so concerned about Giant Salvinia now? With the heavy rains at the end of 2006 which raised the Lake level by over four (4) feet, Giant Salvinia was “flushed out” of its habitat and into the main body of Lake Conroe (unlike Hydrilla which anchors itself to the Lake floor, Giant Salvinia floats on the Lake surface). Most likely, all of our Lake’s shoreline has become invaded by very small amounts of Giant Salvinia. I know I can find small pieces of Giant Salvinia just about anywhere I go on the Lake. TPWD and SJRA concur with these findings.

With Giant Salvinia spread throughout the Lake now, 2007 could prove disastrous with no physical restrictions on its growth and unlimited nutrients and sunlight available to it across the Lake. The time to act is now!!! Giant Salvinia is not going to go away on its own. We can treat the 300 or so acres immediately, or we can treat multiples of those acres next month. And, of course, we can spend money now or spend multiples of that money next month.

If there is a good thing about Giant Salvinia, it can be killed with herbicide applications. Since it floats on the surface, herbicides can be applied directly on the plant. This differs greatly from Hydrilla in that Hydrilla grows from the bottom and only leaves the “topped out” portion exposed for direct herbicide applications. While many people resist the use of herbicides, the use of herbicides on Giant Salvinia is a necessity (no other solution, such as White Amur for Hydrilla, is known).

Herbicide applications on Giant Salvinia (and Water Hyacinth…..a floating plant like Giant Salvinia and often found living harmoniously with Giant Salvinia) begin next week. The maximum projected cost for this application is $80,000, and the LCA will share the cost on a 50/50 basis with SJRA.

You will soon see and hear Fund Raising efforts by the LCA regarding monies needed for the treatment of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth. It should be noted that the LCA has obtained preliminary endorsement of this Fund Raising campaign from angling organizations such a Texas BASS Federation (anglers have always recognized the devastating effects of Giant Salvinia). Meetings are being held next week with BASS to work out a joint Fund Raising effort where support is requested from residents, businesses AND anglers. These Fund Raising efforts have been endorsed by TPWD and SJRA.

LCA BANK BALANCE AND FUND RAISING EFFORTS:

The LCA currently holds approximately $152,000 from previous Fund Raising efforts. From this balance, $32,000 will be paid next week for the LCA’s 50% portion of the 10,000 White Amur placed in the Lake over the past three (3) weeks. An estimated $40,000 will be paid during the next month for the LCA’s 50% portion of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth herbicide applications. Deducting these two payments, the LCA will have a remaining balance of $80,000. When further additions of White Amur are approved in 2007 and funds are needed for potential Giant Salvinia herbicide applications, the LCA could find itself without the monies needed to return Lake Conroe to its previously enjoyable and safe condition. Therefore, Fund Raising continues to be a priority for the LCA….and you.

Previously unprecedented, the LCA will work with angling organizations to raise awareness and monies. As an LCA member, you should have received our request to write two (2) US Senators and ten (10) US Representatives informing them that funding is needed at a Federal level for Aquatic Plant Management (and “Thank You” very much if you followed through on the letters). The LCA will next work on a similar letter to State Senators and State Representatives to request funding at a State level for Aquatic Plant Management. I will travel to Austin this Wednesday at Senator Nichols request to present Texas’ needs for Aquatic Plant Management funding to approximately 55 State Representatives and to request their support for Senator Nichols’ Bill (which would authorize TPWD monies to be used for Aquatic Plant Management). The LCA participates in the Conroe Chamber of Commerce and tries to inform local businesses why our “weed problem” is their problem too. We speak at POA Meetings, sell tee shirts, present the issue to Montgomery County Commissioners Court and try every avenue to raise money that is presented to us. The US Forest Service, who owns 30% of Lake Conroe’s shoreline, has obtained preliminary approval to provide funding to SJRA for Aquatic Plant Management on Lake Conroe. And, of course, we’ll be asking for your support.

Thank you for listening, and I will present another President’s Update next month with new information on our progress and concerns. Until then, enjoy our Lake.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

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.

*******************************

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

********************************

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.

***********************************

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.

************************************

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.

********************************

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