LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Just some quick information for those interested. Hoping you and your family made it through Hurricane Ike safely and with limited damage.

As you are probably aware, the dam on Lake Conroe suffered damage from Ike. Approximately 1,500 feet of the 12,000 foot length of the dam needs “spot repair” at an initial estimated cost of $1 million. Before any repair can commence, engineering design for the repair must be completed, bids must go out to qualified contractors and a final bid must be accepted by the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) Board. The actual repairs will most likely commence by late-January and actual repair work is estimated to take 8 – 12 weeks. If the lake level must be lowered for repairs, SJRA does not see such an action occurring before late-January (with plenty of advance notification so that boat owners and lake area residents can prepare).

Based on the August, 2008 surveys performed by Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), our weed and plant acreages are as follows:

· Hydrilla….1.3 acres (down from 2.5 acres in June)

· Water Hyacinth…..67.9 acres (down from 106.4 acres in June)

· Giant Salvinia…..628.7 acres (up from 283.5 acres in June)

· Combined native plants…..140.0 acres (down from 151.5 acres in June)

It appears that the White Amur purchased for Hydrilla reduction are now eating Water Hyacinth. Giant Salvinia is currently being treated with herbicides by SJRA and a contractor hired by SJRA.

An estimated 90,000 White Amur grass carp remain alive in Lake Conroe at this time. While certain organizations have suggested that the ban on removing White Amur from Lake Conroe be removed, the TPWD official in charge of Lake Conroe’s Aquatic Plant Management Program (Dr. Earl Chilton) has stated that this “ban” will not be removed at this time. Dr. Chilton sited that Lake Conroe is still infested with Hydrilla tubers from the 2,100 acre infestation we experienced in 2007 and that the White Amur will prove beneficial once these tubers start to grow again in Spring, 2009 and beyond. Hydrilla tubers can live dormant in the lake bottom for up to 5 – 7 years.

The Annual Meeting of the Lake Conroe Association (LCA) will be held at the offices of SJRA on Friday, January 16, 2009 from 10AM to Noon. Among other topics, the Board of Directors for the LCA for the upcoming year will be elected. More information on this meeting will follow as the date approaches.

Thank you for listening and let us know how we can help. We can be reached at

www.lakeconroeassociation.com.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

Good day to all. To use a common phrase, “I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want first?”

HYDRILLA:

The September, 2006 hydrilla survey estimated 1,200 infested acres. With the rains and rise in Lake levels, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) estimated an additional 700 acres of previously dry lakebed would become infested. I, like most of you, had hoped that the combination of winter temperatures causing hydrilla die back plus our 27,000 White Amur eating away would dramatically decrease the amount of hydrilla in Lake Conroe. TPWD completed its March, 2007 hydrilla survey and estimated a total of 1,900 infested acres…..or no reduction in the number of surface acres at all. With this latest information, Lake users should be prepared for another summer of significant hydrilla infestation.

Acknowledging the new growth hydrilla in the previously dry lakebed, TPWD authorized the introduction of 10,000 new White Amur in March, 2007. Upon completing its hydrilla survey in later March and identifying insignificant hydrilla reduction during the past six months, TPWD authorized the release of an additional 23,424 White Amur which will be added in early to mid-May. This will raise the total of White Amur stocked to around 60,000, and place the approximate number of fish/acre at 30 (an increase from 23 fish/acre in October, 2006). We certainly hope they have BIG appetites over this summer!!

The next TPWD hydrilla survey will be in May, 2007, and I’d be prepared for a further increase in the number of infested acres and the reappearance of “topped-out” hydrilla where we saw it last summer. Further White Amur introductions are possible at that time, yet the concern remains over placing too many White Amur into the Lake which may revert to eating native vegetation once (or if) all of the hydrilla is gone.

The use of herbicides to reduce the quantity of hydrilla is once again being reviewed. Herbicides like Aquathol K do not kill hydrilla but rather “burn it back” for a period of two to four weeks. The benefits of the use of Aquathol K would include the immediate removal of “topped out” hydrilla to provide access to and from the shoreline. A second benefit would be that the less hydrilla there is in the Lake, the less hydrilla the White Amur need to eat and, theoretically, the faster the White Amur can get ahead of the hydrilla growth. Certainly, one negative of the use of herbicides would be the cost of those herbicides (and some would argue that the monies would be better spent on more White Amur that will live for five to seven years). The LCA has not funded herbicide applications for hydrilla in 2006 or 2007, but we will face this issue this Summer. No decision has yet been made by the LCA on this funding issue.

Sonar is a herbicide which does kill hydrilla, but its use is restricted to sheltered “cove-type” areas and its effectiveness is reduced or eliminated should heavy winds or rains wash the herbicide into the main body of the Lake. In the event that Sonar is used, a by-product of its use is that it also kills Giant Salvinia…..and Giant Salvinia likes to collect in these same “cove-type” areas. The use of Sonar is being considered in very limited applications.

Under its arrangement with the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), the LCA is to cost-share on a 50/50 basis with SJRA on all approved White Amur purchases and herbicide applications for Giant Salvinia.

GIANT SALVINIA:

Giant Salvinia doubles in size every four days under ideal growing conditions. TPWD estimated a total of 221 acres of Giant Salvinia on Lake Conroe in September, 2006. With the heavy rains which raised the Lake level back to 201 feet, Giant Salvinia was “washed out” of the northern, uninhabited, low-lying areas in which it thrives and into the main body of the Lake. Giant Salvinia can now be found most everywhere on our Lake’s shoreline in small quantities.

To combat the potential explosion of Giant Salvinia, herbicide applications which kill the plant were initiated three weeks ago. The estimated cost to cover the infestation in this first application was $80,000, and the LCA and SJRA will share in this cost under our 50/50 cost-share arrangement. It’s probable a second application will be needed in two months.

WHITE AMUR SIGNAGE:

White Amur are protected by law from removal from any Texas lake. Signs are currently being produced and will be posted at all marinas and boat launches to educate and remind anglers of the need to “catch and release” should a White Amur be inadvertently caught. These signs should also assist bow hunters in identifying White Amur before they shoot their arrows. And, finally, Game Wardens will not have to listen to the excuse “I didn’t know that was the law.”

WHITE AMUR STOCKINGS:

No, not socks for White Amur !! When White Amur have been introduced into the Lake (stockings), questions have arisen by some LCA Members whether the fish were healthy, of the proper size and handled properly. Historically, stockings have been coordinated between the supplier, SJRA and TPWD. During the May, 2007 stocking, a paid, trained consultant will observe the stocking and also train all LCA Board Members in what to look for in White Amur stockings. All future White Amur stockings in Lake Conroe will be observed by either the paid consultant or a trained LCA Board Member…..in addition to SJRA and TPWD representatives.

WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?

Thanks to the generosity of our LCA Members, the LCA raised $240,000 in the last year for Aquatic Plant Management on Lake Conroe. To pay for the 27,000 White Amur introduced into the Lake in 2006, the LCA contributed $90,000 (I’m using big, round numbers for this Update). Our 10,000 White Amur introduced in March, 2007 cost $34,000. The LCA has agreed to pay $40,000 (its 50% share) for the Giant Salvinia herbicide applications in April and May, 2007. And this newest batch of 23,000 White Amur to be introduced in May, 2007 will cost the LCA $76,000. There goes the $240,000. The LCA’s financial records are audited every two years, so please rest assured that each penny is being properly accounted for on your behalf.

FUTURE FUND RAISING:

Based on the above, the LCA’s bank account balance will be less than $2,000 once we receive all of the invoices for payment. What happens when we need more White Amur or herbicide applications?

You guessed it. It’s Fund Raising time again. The LCA has initiated its next Fund Raising effort, and Fund Raising requests will be mailed in May, 2007. A personal contribution of $100 makes an individual a LCA Member for one year. A $250 business contribution makes a business a LCA Member for one year.

We had very limited success in securing funds from local businesses during the past year (and “Thank You” to each business that did contribute). In an effort to acknowledge businesses supporting Lake Conroe and the effort to control its weed infestation, the LCA will implement a couple of new concepts for 2007. All businesses contributing $250 or more will be publicly acknowledged through advertisements placed by the LCA in The Courier. Further, we will create a web page on the LCA website (LakeConroeAssociation.com) which summarizes all business contributors by business category. We hope that you will review the ads and website, and use this information to support the businesses which are also supporting you. Businesses will also be provided a framed certificate which they can display at their business which lets you know they are a financial supporter of Lake Conroe and the LCA.

FUNDS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS:

Senator Nichols presented Senate Bill 825 to the Senate Sub-Committee three weeks ago. Representative Brandon Creighton presented House Bill 825 to the House Sub-Committee (the House version of the Senate bill) two weeks ago. LCA representatives spoke in Austin to both of these Sub-Committees, and we are pleased to say that both Bills were forwarded by the Sub-Committees to their respective Senate and House floors for voting in future months. We very much appreciate the efforts of Senator Nichols and Representative Creighton for their efforts in initiating these Bills, and of a local resident for his efforts at these Sub-Committee hearings. While these Bills do not direct new monies for Aquatic Plant Management (APM) in the State of Texas, they authorize TPWD to utilize certain funds for APM which previously could not be used by TPWD for this purpose. Further, these Bills raise awareness of the need for APM in Austin, and provide a stepping-stone for future funding requests from the State.

FUNDS FROM COUNTY, CITY AND OTHER SOURCES:

The LCA will be hosting a Forum of State, County and City officials in four weeks to discuss the need for funding from sources other than local residents and businesses. This Forum has been favorably accepted by the invitees, and we hope that this event will initiate true dialogue among these various entities on the need for their immediate financial support. Included in the invitee list are Senator Nichols, Representative Creighton, County Judge Sadler, Precinct 1 Commissioner Meador, Precinct 2 Commissioner Doyal, Precinct 3 Commissioner Chance, Precinct 4 Commissioner Rinehart, Conroe Mayor Metcalf, Montgomery Mayor Moore, Willis Mayor Reed, Conroe Chamber of Commerce Director Darsey, US Forest Service representative, TPWD, SJRA, LCA Board Members and Howard Roden from The Courier. This event will not be open to the public as was our August, 2006 Public Meeting, but the LCA and Courier will be reporting on the outcome the following day. We share this information to demonstrate to you that we are “shaking every tree and leaving no stone unturned” in our efforts to secure adequate funding for the today and tomorrow of Lake Conroe; and that we agree that local residents should not be as responsible for the financial maintenance of Lake Conroe as they have been in the past. As Public Entities often cannot produce immediate funds and must obtain approval annually in the budget process, please do not anticipate monies to be received in time to solve our short-term, summer financial needs….and so, the LCA residential and business Fund Raising efforts will move forward and require your full support.

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING, AND I WILL REPORT TO YOU SOON WITH NEW INFORMATION.

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.

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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

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

The Lake Conroe Association (LCA) met with representatives of Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), bass fishing organizations and The Courier today. The primary discussion topic was the hydrilla infestation on Lake Conroe.

TPWD reported its July, 2007 hydrilla survey results of 1,776 hydrilla infested acres…..up from 1,380 acres in May, 2007. This represents an increase of 396 acres, or 28%. Previous surveys of hydrilla infested acres reported 470 acres in March, 2006, 740 acres in July, 2006, 1,200 acres in September, 2006, 1,900 acres in March, 2007, and 1,380 acres in May, 2007. While TPWD points out that the number of hydrilla infested acres today is less than in its March, 2007 survey, the LCA is very disappointed that the infestation increased during the past two months. With approximately 50,000 White Amur grass carp (estimated number alive after mortality) in the Lake and hydrilla herbicides being applied, we ALL hoped for a decrease in our hydrilla problem.

In response to their survey results, TPWD has agreed to permit the stocking of 25,364 additional White Amur at this time. Compared to the approximate 50,000 White Amur alive currently in Lake Conroe, this represents a 50% increase in White Amur. While contracts have not yet been signed, we expect the White Amur to be delivered from Arkansas fisheries via several truckloads beginning in 2 – 3 weeks. Special provisions will be made by the fishery and its delivery company to transport the White Amur during this very hot time of year.

25,364 White Amur (minimum 12 inches long) delivered in hot August will cost approximately $150,000. SJRA will fund 50% of this cost and, thanks to the generous donations of our LCA Members, the LCA will fund the remaining 50%, or $75,000. This payment will seriously diminish the LCA’s available funds and, accordingly, we will intensify our Residential and Business Fund Raising Campaigns. Without continued contributions, the LCA will be limited in its ability to fund future treatment proposals, if needed.

To become a Member of the LCA, an individual is asked to donate $100 or more and a business $300 or more. Of course, all contributions are welcomed and greatly appreciated. As the LCA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation, donations should be tax deductible. Donations can be mailed to: Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378-9998.

As I will certainly be asked how I feel about TPWD’s proposal to add 25,364 White Amur at this time, I will have to answer this question in two statements. First, it is unfortunate that a more aggressive approach was not taken by TPWD initially. With only 470 hydrilla infested acres in March, 2006, we should not have had to stock in excess of 85,000 White Amur (number purchased before mortality) to solve this infestation (if, indeed, this number does “solve” the infestation). Time, energy and money was wasted; and I hope lessons are learned so that this does not happen to other Texas lakes in the future. Second, a 50% increase in the stocking of White Amur versus a 28% increase in the hydrilla infestation demonstrates that TPWD acknowledges the problem and desires to solve it. As no one knows the exact number of White Amur it will take to solve the infestation, I feel that a 50% increase represents an appropriately-aggressive approach today.

If you have been following this hydrilla infestation, you are aware that the Lake Conroe Aquatic Management Plan covering April 1, 2006 through March 31, 2008 calls for the reduction of hydrilla to “40 acres or less by March, 2008”. So, go ahead and ask your next question: “Do you think that this goal of 40 acres or less WILL be achieved?” When Dr. Earl Chilton of TPWD was asked this question today, he responded that he felt the objective of “40 acres or less” was still achievable. I would be very pleased if this goal were reached, but find it unlikely that a decrease from today’s 1,776 acres to a goal of “40 acres or less” in seven months can occur. I hope that I am proven wrong. While I expect TPWD and SJRA to do their utmost to achieve that goal of “40 acres or less”, a significant reduction between now and March, 2008 would set the stage for success later in 2008. If 75,000 White Amur could reduce hydrilla from 1,776 acres to 200 acres (just to pick a number out of the air) by March, 2008, then I’d anticipate that those same 75,000 White Amur would most likely complete their job shortly thereafter and allow us to enjoy our Lake more fully, and at less cost, in 2008. This is not a scientific explanation but, rather, just my opinion…..which LCA Members ask me on the golf course and at the supermarket and over the internet and “in my face”. I’m not Johnny Carson’s “Karnak” on predicting the future, but I’m sharing my opinion because you ask me for it. Let’s just all hope that the plan in place today succeeds.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for your contributions. All of us at the LCA are doing our best to assist in solving this hydrilla infestation and return Lake Conroe to its magnificent beauty. Enjoy the balance of your summer on the Lake.

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association