Weeds Indentified on the Lake
These are weeds that have been identified by the San Jacinto River Authority as potentially spreading throughout the lake and your shoreline.
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These are weeds that have been identified by the San Jacinto River Authority as potentially spreading throughout the lake and your shoreline.
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BUSHY POND WEED
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ILLINOIS POND WEED
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Finding the most effective ballance between having enough grass carp in the Lake and not reducing the vegitation down to nothing is a real challenge for all of those wanting to find that perfect balance. The current situation is that we have to many large grass carp in the Lake for a proper balance of vegitation, oxygen, fish spawning areas, water quality, etc.
The size and number of grass carp currently in the Lake is starting to have an effect on the water clarity. We had a mud hole a few years back and there are signs we are starting to get a lot more stained water in all areas of the Lake. No one wants that to happen.
The effect the fish are having on fishing and spawning beds has been critical. Lake Conroe is know as one of the best catfish fishing lakes in Texas and now it is impossible to bait a specific area or chum when fishing for catfish. The grass carp move in and take over the area. Last year we had four “ShareLunker” bass caught on Lake Conroe, this past season we had NONE!
The grass carp on Lake Conroe are still protected and must be released immediately when caught when fishing for other fish; however, there is a realization on the part of all parties that the population of grass carp, the size of the fish and the fact that they are now eating anything is causing a problem for the Lake.
This fall there is going to be a ‘grass carp’ fishing tournament that will be monitored by the Texas Parks & Wildlife. There purpose of the tournament is to ‘thin the heard’ so to speak. The tournament will allow some of the large grass carp to be removed from the Lake in a systimatic manner with good record keeping concerning the number of fish removed and the size of the fish removed.
There will be more information posted on this site as well as on the Lake Conroe Guide Fishing Report as more information is available. We are very fortunate to have the JSRA, TP&W, Lake Conroe Association and others work together to find solutions to this problem and take the necessary action to both keep the hydrilla in check and provide the necessary vegitation in the Lake for proper water and fish management.
We will keep you posted! Papa John
On January 15, 2010, the Lake Conroe Association held its Annual Meeting at the San Jacinto River Authority’s office to summarize 2009 LCA activities for its members and elect the LCA Board for 2010. Through proxies submitted by LCA members, you have chosen to re-elect the 2009 LCA Board to the 2010 LCA Board. Your 2010 LCA Board consists of Gene Barrington, Mike Bleier, Tom Butz, Dawn Cleboski, Gene Colbert, Rich Cutler, Jim Pohoski, Ben Richardson and Sue Wheatley. Upon being re-elected for 2010, the LCA Board then voted the following into office for 2010: Mike Bleier, President; Ben Richardson, Vice President; Dawn Cleboski, Secretary; and Tom Butz, Treasurer. We thank our LCA members for supporting us and I thank the LCA Board for volunteering their time for yet again another year of service.
To provide a brief summary of 2009 activities, I list the following:
To give you a sense of what the LCA Board does on your behalf other than meet once a month, during 2009 we met with State Senator Nichols, State Representative Brandon Creighton, Conroe Mayor Melder, County Judge Sadler, County Commissioners Meador and Doyal, the San Jacinto River Authority, Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, the Region H Water Planning Board, the Woodlands Township Board, Lake Conroe Communities Network, and the Seven Coves Bass Club. We present to Property Owner Associations and various local groups upon request. We testified in Austin over funding for aquatic plant management. And taking the lion share of our time currently, we involve ourselves in the various water issues for our County in cooperation with many involved parties.
I don’t know if you’re tired of the overall “water topic” in our County, but I’d be remiss to ignore the problem in this update. I divide the “water topic” into three catagories: Water contracts with large water users, Lake levels on Lake Conroe, and Future water sources for our County. We have stayed away from the category “Water contracts with large water users” since this is an individual issue between The City of Conroe, various MUD Districts and the San Jacinto River Authority. We hope they will collectively resolve this situation to provide the best solution for everyone involved. On the category “Future water sources for our County”, this topic is somewhat “tabled” currently (and will be picked up again in the near future). I say “tabled” because the immediate priority has been resolving the issue of “Water contracts with large water users” and the necessity for the San Jacinto River Authority to initiate construction of its water treatment plant and pipelines by the imposed 2016 completion deadline. Judge Sadler did present his concept of a future reservoir site within our County to the Region H Water Planning Board, but that Board elected to exclude this request currently based on a lack of adequate engineering studies at this time. A thorough review of reservoir site options and cost comparisons to other sources of water such as buying water from the Trinity River Authority or drilling deep wells to capture “brackish water” (water with a high salt content located below the aquifers we currently utilize) will be further explored this year independently by a variety of entities. While the San Jacinto River Authority has not committed to review alternative reservoir sites until after 2016, we are hopeful that their timetable will be moved up and resources allocated to this review prior to 2016. And that leaves us with the topic of “Lake levels on Lake Conroe”……a topic of great interest to our many LCA members.
Rather than go down the arguments that “Lake Conroe was built as a reservoir and not for the benefit of lakefront owners” or “Lowering the level of Lake Conroe will have enormous affects on the local economy and property values”, I’ll just summarize what’s being done to review the data regarding lake levels. The San Jacinto River Authority hired an independent consulting firm to utilize historic data to project the potential effects on our lake levels and, based on reports provided to them by those consultants, concluded that “The true effect of SJRA’s plan on the lake level of Lake Conroe will be minimal”. It appears that all in the County are not quite ready to accept that conclusion. While I, personally, waded through piles of data and reports to try to come to the same conclusion as SJRA, I found the sheer quantity of data to be daunting and my engineering expertise lacking to report as any type of “expert”. Fortunately, in attending a meeting at SJRA’s office last week, I learned that plenty of entities have engaged their own consultants to review the work completed by SJRA’s consultants. In fact, this data and the conclusions reached are being currently reviewed by a minimum of five (5) other consulting firms employed individually by the City of Conroe, the Region H Water Planning Board, the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, a group of MUD Districts and a group of local developers whose future projects would be negatively affected by low lake levels. While I do not have a specific timetable from them on completion of their five independent reviews, I’m confident all understand time is of the essence and that they are far more qualified than I to adequately review this important topic.
But, here are a few of things I can share with you based on our involvement to date. SJRA presents information that in future years of maximum water use (2045 and beyond by their estimation) where 100,000 acre feet per year are drawn from Lake Conroe (which SJRA refers to as “4 feet of water”), we should not be concerned because an average of seven (7) feet of water is released through the dam each year. First, I’d like to clarify that 100,000 acre feet is far closer to “5 feet of water” than “4 feet of water”. Second, the conclusion that the 100,000 acre feet per year of water won’t be reached until 2045 is based on two critical assumptions: 1) Projected population growth, and 2) Estimated re-charge rate of our aquifer. If either of these assumptions are in error, we could see the use of that 100,000 acre feet per year much earlier than 2045. And third, while stating that an “average” of seven feet of water is released through the dam each year, the use of this “average” is quite misleading. In fact, in the ten years ended 2008, less than 100,000 acre feet per year were released in five (5) out of the past ten (10) years. Specifically, releases were as follows: 1999….68,531 acre feet, 2000….15,391 acre feet, 2003….85,978 acre feet, 2006….10,391 acre feet, and 2008….58,193 acre feet. We look forward to these five consulting firms reviewing SJRA’s historical data and the underlying assumptions applied, and we hope they reinforce SJRA’s conclusion that “lake level effects will be minimal”. It would be wonderful to have all agree on the validity of SJRA’s conclusions and get us all moving in one direction together on the lake level topic.
While I have not discussed the need for Water Conservation, it clearly remains a vital topic for our future. Since the Lake Conroe Communities Network (LCCN) has created a committee to review this area, the LCA did not see the need for a duplication of efforts. The LCA does have a LCA Board Member on LCCN’s Water Committee. LCCN is a valuable local organization who tackles numerous topics on our collective behalf, and they deserve our support and thanks.
If you were wondering, we estimate that approximately 59,000 White Amur Grass Carp are still alive currently in Lake Conroe. This is based on Texas Parks & Wildlife’s assumption of a 32% mortality rate per year and no reproduction of the genetically modified species.
Just a reminder…..early voting is currently being conducted for the March 2 primary elections. For many on Lake Conroe, the closest location is the West County Courthouse Annex at 19380 Texas 105 West, Suite 507 in Montgomery. The Courier lists all early voting locations and times if you’re looking for an alternative site. Whether you early vote or vote on March 2, please voice your opinion by voting.
January rainfall at the damsite totaled2.28 inches and February rainfall through February 17 totalled 2.44 inches. In reviewing data from the damsite between 1999 and 2008, average January rainfall has equated to3.81 inches and average February rainfall for 17 days has equated to 2.09 inches. Water is currently being released from the dam and today’s lake level is 201.16. The average temperature in January and February is 47 degrees and 52 degrees, respectively, compared to our actual 2010 results of 46 degrees for January and 42 degrees for February.
And finally, the LCA is trying to update a list of Property Owners’ Associations. This information would be used to keep the various Lake Conroe communities advised of issues critical to our lake. Would you please contact the head of your POA and request that they provide us with 1) Name of your subdivision or lakefront community, 2) An e-mail contact for the POA, and 3) A phone number or contact for the POA if no e-mail is available? This information will be used only by the LCA and not shared with anyone. Please send replies to our LCA Board Member Jim Pohoski at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration in this request.
We hope you found this LCA President’s Update to be informative and appreciate your continuing support. Should you have questions or feedback, e-mails can be sent to www.lakeconroeassociation.com. Let’s look forward to wonderful Spring and Summer seasons ahead.
Working for you,
Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association
It has been a beautiful, yet dry, Fall season so far. I hope you’ve made your way outdoors to enjoy the lower temperatures, lower humidity and endless sunshine we’ve shared for the past six weeks or so. But with “the good” usually comes “some bad”. Officially in the Lake Conroe area, we’ve had only 2.83 inches of rain since September 1 and the lake level has dropped to a level of 199.36 as of today. At this level, the lake is 1 foot 8 inches below its normal pool elevation of 201 feet. Please be careful out there boating as submerged debris and stumps are much closer to the surface when the lake level is down.
With the lack of rainfall and dry conditions, Montgomery County was officially placed under a Burn Ban as of October 25. Please resist burning your leaves or lighting that Fall bonfire as conditions are extremely hazardous.
The Lake Conroe Association (LCA) initiated its Annual Fund Raising Campaign on June 10 and identified its primary, immediate need to be monies to fund a study by Texas A&M University which will review future lake levels once water starts being removed by the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) in 2016 (further discussion of this Texas A&M study follows). The LCA agreed to pay $66,000 of the $142,000 total study cost; with the balance funded by Montgomery County, the Cities of Conroe and Montgomery, various MUD’s, Lake Conroe Communities Network (LCCN) and other lake-related donors. LCA’s Annual Fund Raising Campaign has raised $57,585 to date and $8,415 was paid from the LCA’s reserves to meet that $66,000 obligation. We greatly appreciate the continued generosity of our LCA Members in donating $57,585 during these difficult economic times. Should you have missed the LCA’s Annual Fund Raising Campaign and still desire to contribute, monies can be mailed payable to the “Lake Conroe Association” at PO Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378-9998.
The contract between Texas A&M University and Montgomery County for the above-referenced Lake Study was approved by Commissioners Court and executed by Montgomery County on September 27. With SJRA prepared to initiate significant water removal in 2016 yet stating that the effects on Lake Conroe’s lake levels will be “minimal”, the Lake Study will review engineering studies commissioned by SJRA in an effort to understand and validate (or not validate) SJRA’s conclusions on future lake levels. Should Texas A&M’s study conclude that lake levels may drop lower than predicted by SJRA, Texas A&M will also study the economic impact on our community, and Montgomery County as a whole, of lower lake levels. The 16 month “Timeline of A&M Study of Economic Impact of SJRA’s Planned Lake Level Reductions” includes reviews of lake level studies, property value assessments, and sales tax revenue data; and also includes a survey of residents, business survey and a contemplated Town Hall Meeting. The Lake Study including all elements listed here is to be completed by December, 2011.
As you’ve most likely read, water conservation has become a key element in both reducing our overall water consumption and potentially helping maintain lake levels in Lake Conroe. LCCN (a local community organization) has spearheaded the water conservation topic and held several presentations to elected officials, MUD’s, and interested parties. For more information about LCCN and their work on water conservation, you may review their website at www.lakeconroecn.com.
An invasive species named Zebra Mussels have been identified for the first time on Lake Conroe. Zebra Mussels multiply quickly and have damaged many bodies of water in the U.S. and around the world (causing clogged intake pipes, damaging boat hulls, creating sharp surfaces on boat docks and lake floors, and altering water chemistry). Fortunately, this case of Zebra Mussels was identified on the hull of a boat BEFORE it was launched into Lake Conroe thanks to an observant marina owner (and LCA Board Vice President). In conjunction with Texas Parks & Wildlife and SJRA, the LCA has contributed $1,250 towards the creation and installation of 250 permanent signs around Lake Conroe at various access points to educate the public on the importance of inspecting your boat hull before launching that boat into any body of water. For more information on Zebra Mussels, you can access www.texasinvasives.org.
Texas Parks & Wildlife completed its survey of aquatic vegetation on Lake Conroe in July, 2010 and reported only 0.02 acres of Hydrilla, 1.79acres of Giant Salvinia and 1.16 acres of Water Hyacinth…..ALL GREAT NEWS !! Native vegetation (natural, beneficial plants) held steady at 150.21 acres. Many thanks are due Texas Parks & Wildlife and SJRA for their efforts in controlling invasive aquatic vegetation on Lake Conroe, and to our LCA Members who have donated over $500,000 over the past four (4) years towards this cause.
As you may be aware, the primary method of controlling Hydrilla (which covered over 2,000 surface acres of Lake Conroe only two years ago) has been the purchase of 130,000 White Amur Grass Carp. Based on a 32% estimated mortality per year and the fact that this species has been genetically-engineered so as not to produce offspring, Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) estimates that 48,000 were still alive on May 31, 2010 and projects that 32,000, 22,000 and 15,000 grass carp will be alive on May 31 of 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. When asked how it will calculate when to start adding new White Amur Grass Carp to Lake Conroe, TPWD responded “As soon as Hydrilla starts to expand into water beyond a few inches deep, it will likely be time to add more grass carp. At that point, stocking calculations will be based on returning the number of grass carp per total surface acre to the most recent survey where Hydrilla was totally under control. In this way, we hopefully will remain in a proactive mode instead of a reactive mode.” The LCA meets regularly with TPWD and SJRA to discuss aquatic plant surveys and means by which to maintain a healthy Lake Conroe.
Well, that’s it for another edition of our LCA President’s Update. You can review previous editions of these LCA President’s Updates, follow current topics of interest, and send us your comments at our website at www.lakeconroeassociation.com. We’re wishing you a wonderful Fall season on the lake and thank you for your continued support.
Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association
The committee of Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), Lake Conroe Association (LCA), and angler organizations including Seven Coves Bass Club received wonderful news from TPWD regarding Lake Conroe’s Hydrilla infestation. Hydrilla was reported to have decreased from 2,033 acres in January, 2008 to 363 acres in March, 2008 – the lowest Hydrilla acreage since 2005. Finally, some good news !!
TPWD described “schools of White Amur” traveling throughout the Lake and ravaging our nuisance, invasive weed. With approximately 110,000 White Amur still alive at this time (based on an estimated 32% mortality factor) and only 363 infested acres, the White Amur now hold a distinct advantage over Hydrilla in that they are currently stocked at 302 fish/acre. If 110,000 White Amur can devour 1,670 Hydrilla infested acres in two months, just think what those 110,000 White Amur can do to the remaining 363 acres. Even though we are just entering Hydrilla growing season as Lake temperatures warm and sunshine intensifies, we are cautiously optimistic that the Summer of 2008 will be much improved for all Lake users.
Concerns exist over the possibility that once the White Amur eat the majority of our Hydrilla, they will turn to other Lake vegetation as their food source. TPWD reported that White Amur like to eat Bushy Pond Weed, a plant that has caused certain portions of our Lake to become unattractive and less navigable. TPWD also stated that White Amur are less inclined to eat Coontail or Vallisneria – both plants that provide excellent fish habitat and improve water quality. TPWD is actively monitoring the condition of our native plant community and has enlisted the services of two Texas A&M graduate students to study various Lake conditions documented by them in 2007 and comparing that data to new data being gathered in 2008. TPWD stated they were optimistic that our native plant community would survive.
TPWD and SJRA will develop a new, written Aquatic Plant Management Plan for Lake Conroe as the current Plan expired March, 2008. The new Plan will call for surveys of Hydrilla and Giant Salvinia every two months. Should Hydrilla unexpectedly show signs of a “spike” in growth, TPWD has agreed that supplemental stockings of White Amur will not be ruled out. Further, TPWD said any such “spikes” would be dealt with “immediately” rather than taking a slower, measured approach as used throughout the past two (2) years.
The news about another invasive weed, Giant Salvinia, was less encouraging. Giant Salvinia has been reported to cover between 300 – 500 acres currently, and the plant is already actively growing with our warmer temperatures. Giant Salvinia is particularly dangerous for our Lake as it can double in size every three (3) days. SJRA has already initiated herbicide applications to Giant Salvinia, and is negotiating with a helicopter operator for aerial sprayings in the less populated areas like the northern National Forest shoreline. TPWD and SJRA are committed to attacking the Giant Salvinia problem immediately.
After LCA Members donated over $500,000 in the past two years and the combined team of SJRA and LCA have spent well over $1 million to control invasive weeds on Lake Conroe, some good news is finally on the financial horizon. TPWD had secured a $150,000 grant from US Fish & Wildlife for Aquatic Plant Management (APM) on Lake Conroe. Working with LCA and SJRA, Montgomery County has agreed to increase their contribution from their $25,000 budget to $55,000. The US Forest Service has concurred that a significant portion of the Hydrilla infestation is located along the shores of the National Forest and, in response, has agreed to contribute $16,000. The Seven Coves Bass Club, in a somewhat unprecedented move for an angling organization, donated $5,000 for APM. Senator Robert Nichols continues to press Austin for financial assistance for our Texas lakes and reports that the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has given TPWD not greater than two months to draft a proposal on how funds appropriated to TPWD by the State of Texas can be allocated for APM in Texas lakes. These sources will certainly help ease the financial burden placed on the resources of Lake residents, businesses and SJRA, but will not eliminate the need for funds from the LCA.
The LCA will initiate its annual Fund Raising Campaign in May in an effort to replenish its depleted bank account and provide a fund for future, emergency needs should infestations of Hydrilla or Giant Salvinia need immediate attention. We do not desire to be in a position where funds are needed and the LCA cannot respond. The fund raising process takes about two months – much too long for any form of “immediate” response. We hope that you will consider to continue to support the LCA and its efforts to assist all Lake users. You will see fund raising correspondence in the mail shortly as we send letters to over 15,000 Lake residents and local businesses. I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank those 250+ contributors who responded to the LCA’s February, 2008 Emergency Fund Raising request which enabled the LCA to pay for this last batch of much-needed 32,000 White Amur added in March, 2008.
Again, thank you for your support of the LCA. The teamwork exhibited between residents, businesses, TPWD, SJRA, LCA, angling organizations, Montgomery County, State representatives and The Courier has enabled us to close in on reaching our goal of “40 acres or less of Hydrilla” and should serve as a guideline for other Texas lakes should they encounter infestations in the future. We hope you enjoy a beautiful Lake Conroe for years to come.
Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association
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.
President, Lake Conroe Association
Cool, rainy conditions have dominated the January, 2008 weather scene. A total of 3.09 inches of rain fell in Conroe in January (compared to the average January rainfall of 4.21). The Lake level has increased from 200.47 feet above sea level on January 1 to 201.02 feet today. Please find the following information for your review:
FEBRUARY 5 MEETING WITH TPWD, SJRA, LCA AND ANGLERS:
Today, very disturbing and disappointing news was released by TPWD. In Hydrilla’s slowest growing season (the winter) and with our largest quantity of White Amur (82,000 alive White Amur), Hydrilla infested acres grew from 1,940 in December, 2007 to 2,050 in January, 2008. Don’t be misled by Hydrilla’s lack of surface coverage….IT’S GROWING MORE THAN EVER AND MAY BE WORSE THIS SUMMER THAN LAST. TPWD stated that “We did not expect these results.” An independent consultant involved with Lake Conroe’s Hydrilla infestation for the past two years stated “An increase in Hydrilla during the winter with 82,000 White Amur eating Hydrilla at a rate of 42 fish/acre is an ominous sign.” TPWD’s next scheduled survey is March, 2008.
Specific to these surveys, Caney Creek increased by 146 acres while Little Lake Creek and Lewis Creek decreased by 19 and 17 acres, respectively. The northern Cagle/Stubblefield area remained the same. TPWD reported that Hydrilla is growing an average of 2 feet tall in waters less than 8 feet deep, and is growing an average of 4 to 5 feet tall in waters greater than 8 feet deep.
As its proposed plan to address this Hydrilla increase, TPWD agreed to permit the addition of 24,000 White Amur…..increasing the White Amur stocking rate from 42 fish/acre to 50 fish/acre. TPWD has taken a “measured approach” since the two-year Lake Conroe Aquatic Management Plan was initiated. This “measured approach” was adopted, in large part, to avoid overstocking the Lake with White Amur and damaging native vegetation in the Lake. Since Hydrilla has only continued to increase throughout TPWD’s “measured approach”, TPWD has increased their stocking rate of fish/acre from 9 to 14 to 22 to 29 to 36 to 40 to 42, and now, to 50. Where and when will this end?
The LCA listened to TPWD’s presentation as well as the opinions of SJRA, the independent consultant and angling organizations. Upon processing all of this new information, the LCA determined IT DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS PROPOSAL. While the LCA does not hold a specific scientific basis for its proposal, the LCA requested that TPWD modify the stocking rate to 60 fish/acre….which would require TPWD to permit the addition of 40,000 White Amur. As no one truly knows the number of White Amur it will take to reduce Hydrilla to “40 acres or less” (I’ve removed the “by March, 2008” in TPWD and SJRA’s Management Plan as it won’t happen) while not significantly damaging native vegetation, the LCA believes a more aggressive approach is necessary NOW.
To summarize a few of the LCA’s opinions used in presenting our proposal of increasing the stocking rate to 60 fish/acre and disagreeing with TPWD’s proposal of 50 fish/acre, please find the following:
· Spring growing season will soon be upon us. This stocking represents the last opportunity to get the fish in the Lake before spring arrives. Fish stocked later in the year may not be large enough and appetite-aggressive enough to provide value in 2008.
· Given Hydrilla has increased from 470 acres to 2,050 acres as TPWD has added White Amur with a “measured approach” over the past 2 years, their approach hasn’t worked and a more aggressive approach is appropriate.
· TPWD has based their stocking permits based on the historic scientific data they have gathered from Texas lakes and other research. For some unknown reason, that science has not seemed to apply to Lake Conroe. A departure from that science seems appropriate.
· TPWD would be the first to tell you that they don’t know the correct number of White Amur it will take to control our Hydrilla infestation. Can we risk erring on the conservative side and having to add even more fish down the road?
· As stated by one attendee of today’s meeting, “Throw out science at this point and go with what we’ve experienced on Lake Conroe for two years.”
· As stated by the independent consultant today, “When old science doesn’t work, it becomes time to venture into the world of new science.”
· The potential of enduring a third consecutive year of serious Hydrilla infestation on Lake Conroe is unacceptable. If we thought having a 1,780 acre infestation in July, 2007 was bad, how will we feel about the hypothetical infestation of 3,000 acres this summer?
· And if we reach that hypothetical infestation of 3,000 acres, how many White Amur and herbicides will it take to solve the problem? And who will be expected to pay the enormous future cost of clean-up?
To this end, WE IMPLORE TPWD AND SJRA TO AGREE TO PERMIT THE STOCKING OF 40,000 WHITE AMUR AT THIS TIME AS REQUESTED BY THE LCA.
JANUARY WHITE AMUR RELEASE:
15,775 White Amur were released the week of January 21. This release represents a “mortality stocking” (meaning a replacement of the estimated number of fish which have died since the last mortality stocking) and not an increase in the number of White Amur per hydrilla infested acre. The White Amur were released as follows: 2,100 Little Lake Creek, 7,575 Lewis Creek, 2,100 Caney Creek and 4,000 Cagle/Stubblefield. The cost of these White Amur was $5.00/fish, and the cost was shared 50/50 between SJRA and the LCA.
WHITE AMUR CALCULATION:
Based on White Amur stockings to date and the estimated mortality rate of these fish of 32% per year, we would calculate that 102,000 have been placed in the Lake since 2006 and that 20,000 of these fish have died (through illness, predation by larger fish or predation by various species of birds on the Lake). This would leave 82,000 White Amur feeding upon 1,940 hydrilla infested acres, or 42 fish/acre, through December, 2007.
TPWD HYDRILLA SURVEY:
TPWD concluded its January, 2008 hydrilla survey and reported an estimated 2,052 acres of hydrilla infestation on the Lake. Previous surveys have been as follows:
· 1999….20 acres
· 2001…..80 acres
· 2004…..150 acres
· March, 2006…..470 acres
· July, 2006…..740 acres
· September, 2006…..1,200 acres
· March, 2007…..1,900 acres
· May, 2007…..1,380 acres
· July, 2007…..1,780 acres
· December, 2007…..1,940 acres
· January, 2008…..2,050 acres
NATIVE VEGETATION BEING PLANTED IN LAKE CONROE:
TPWD and SJRA have been establishing native vegetation (those plants native, but not invasive, to the Texas ecosystem) in Lake Conroe for over ten (10) years now. TPWD performs in-depth surveys to determine the quantity and type of native vegetation in the Lake to identify positive or negative trends. The Seven Coves Bass Club is a new partner in this program re-establishing native vegetation.
Most, if not all, of the plantings are done in the upper end of the Lake. The only exception to this policy would be where a homeowner group in the lower end of the Lake specifically requested plantings in their area. In questioning TPWD and SJRA about plantings in the lower end, I received this response: “Regarding planting vegetation in the lower areas of the reservoir, it would have to be a case where there is a substantial number of homeowners (or a substantial amount of shoreline owned by a few property owners) who want plants established in front of their property. In that case, we would work with the homeowners regarding establishment (species planted, cages, etc.). Otherwise, plantings will be conducted around the National Forest.”
The primary plant utilized for these plantings has been Vallisneria Americana (more commonly referred to as “tape grass”). TPWD, in conjunction with SJRA and the Corps of Engineers Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility, have been planting Vallisneria in Lake Conroe for over ten (10) years. TPWD states that “Although Vallisneria is established in Lake Conroe, it has caused no problems.” TPWD also sites research performed by Dr. Richard Ott (and his Doctoral) which involved the ability of Vallisneria to aid in limiting Hydrilla establishment.
Further comments from TPWD include: “Native vegetation is good for aquatic ecosystems. Native plants help prevent erosion, stabilize banks, clear the water, improve water quality, and improve fish and wildlife habitat without creating major access problems like Hydrilla does.”
In questioning TPWD about the timing of working towards native vegetation plantings BEFORE the Hydrilla, Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia infestations are under control, TPWD responded: “The development of a healthy native plant community is not contingent on reaching our goals for Hydrilla. In fact, as we have talked about before, there is evidence that a healthy native plant community can help slow the spread of Hydrilla.” It would be correct that the Aquatic Management Plan for Lake Conroe for the two (2) years ending March, 2008 states goals of “reducing Hydrilla to 40 acres or less by March, 2008” AND establishing a healthy native plant community.
When asked who would pay for clean-up if native plantings got out-of-control and became invasive, TPWD responded “TPWD will not ask the LCA for any money to clean-up native vegetation. Except in very limited areas, it has been our experience that native vegetation simply does not create the same problems created by Hydrilla.”
What does the LCA think about all of this? Among our concerns are the introduction of plants which may become invasive. During previous attempts to establish native vegetation on Lake Conroe, both Musk Grass and Southern Naiad (bushy pondweed) were present as either plants and/or seeds in the transplant materials. These pioneer species benefited from the protected environment of cages and spread very rapidly. It is arguable that further native plantings may have similar unintended consequences. If you’ve had either Musk Grass or Bushy Pondweed around your lakefront, you can attest to the invasive nature of these plants and the detriment caused to navigation, aesthetics and lake use.
SUMMARY OF LCA ANNUAL MEETING
Held January 18, 2008
LCA MEMBER VOTE ON 2008 LCA BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
We’d like to thank our Members for their active participation in returning proxies for 2008 LCA Board of Director elections. Of the 1,072 proxies mailed to our Members, 319 completed proxies were received (far more than last year and more than enough for a valid election per the LCA By-Laws). The LCA Board accepted your nominations and presents its 2008 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 and Sue Wheatley.
LCA OFFICER ELECTIONS:
Subsequent to the LCA Annual Meeting and its Directors being elected, the LCA Board voted on its 2008 Officers. The following Directors accepted those nominations as follows: Mike Bleier (President), Ben Richardson (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).
AUDIT OF LCA:
The LCA has selected a local accounting firm to prepare an audit of the records of the LCA for the period September 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007. The estimated cost of this audit is $2,000, and the LCA Board felt it was money well spent to assure its Members that their contributions of over $400,000 during this period were handled properly.
Unaudited, internally-prepared financial statements for CY2006 and CY2007 reflect Member Contributions of $404,000 less $355,000 in Expenses (producing a net increase in cash of $49,000 during these two years). Expenses consisted of $253,000 for White Amur, $71,000 for Herbicide Treatments, $26,000 for Fund Raising Printing/Postage and $5,000 for Administrative Expenses (legal fees, insurance, tax preparation). We are very pleased that Administrative Expenses totaled only 1.2% of all Member Contributions. No salaries are paid by the LCA as all Officers and Directors operate on a volunteer basis.
In its somewhat dormant state throughout Winter, Hydrilla is not treated with herbicides. While Water Hyacinth can still be seen around the Lake, it is not treated during Winter months because it’s green growth will die in cold conditions. And, since Water Hyacinth reproduces through seeds thrown off by those “pretty purple flowers”, herbicide applications will do nothing to harm those seeds on the Lake bottom which can live and produce new plants for up to the next seven (7) years. Since Giant Salvinia can survive the cold Winter temperatures and reproduces through exponential leaf regeneration and fragmentation, this invasive species will be treated with herbicides during the Winter; but effective treatment can only occur on sunny, calm days (not too many of those so far).
FUND RAISING FROM OTHER-THAN-YOU:
We have seen no funding from the State of Texas. TPWD stated that funding applications totaling $150,000 have been completed by TPWD and are “sitting on desks” waiting for approval and funding. We’ll see.
Montgomery County commits $25,000 per year for Aquatic Plant Management on Lake Conroe and increased that one-time to $100,000 last year. In talking to members of Commissioners Court, the LCA has been asked to continue to provide Commissioners Court with updates on the Lake condition and funding needs for 2008. Until Spring, 2008 surveys are concluded and the level of Hydrilla infestation is determined, the LCA does not see additional funding from Montgomery County as feasible. Should the worse scenario come true and Hydrilla infestation return aggressively in the Spring, I’m confident that Judge Sadler, Commissioner Meador and the other Commissioners will appropriate funds beyond their $25,000 commitment.
The LCA regularly communicates with Senator Nichols and Representative Creighton to apprise them of the situation and the need for State funding sources. I find them very attentive to the situation and determined to identify State funds to assist with our various invasive weed infestations.
No Federal funding has been obtained.
OTHER DISCUSSION TOPICS:
In addition to the above, the following topics were discussed at the LCA Annual Meeting (and are addressed above in this Update):
· Native grasses being planted in Lake Conroe
· White Amur stockings and mortality
· Angler organizations and their position in this issue
· Expectations for February 5 meeting between TPWD, SJRA, LCA and angling organizations
Thank you for your perseverance in following the significant quantity of information provided in this Update. I will report back with you shortly once a decision is made by TPWD and SJRA on the LCA’s proposal for 40,000 White Amur. We very much appreciate your support.
Mike Bleier, President
Lake Conroe Association
Happy Holidays to our LCA Members. We’re pleased that Lake Conroe is far more visually appealing and watercraft-usable than we experienced in the Summer. Due to a number of factors, our Lake is closer to becoming theLakewe have all enjoyed in the past. And while the battle over invasive weeds is far from over, we seem to be moving in the right direction thanks to your generous contributions to the Lake Conroe Association.
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) has completed its November/December, 2007 aquatic plant survey and released those results today to the committee with whom they have work closely over the past two years (including San Jacinto River Authority, LCA and angling organizations). In general, TPWD has seen a reduction of “topped-out” hydrilla but acknowledges that sub-surface hydrilla is still of serious concern for the year ahead. While committed to reaching its stated goal of “40 acres or less of hydrilla by March, 2008”, TPWD reported the current hydrilla infestation to be 1,942 acres. This represents an increase of 167 acres from the July/August, 2007 survey which reported 1,775 hydrilla infested acres. TPWD reported that hydrilla is currently being found out to a depth of 9 feet below the lake’s surface, and that the average height from the lake floor is 2 to 4 feet. TPWD expressed optimism because it has observed a significant reduction in the density of the hydrilla (or said another way….even though the number of infested acres has increased, the total volume of hydrilla material has decreased).
TPWD reported a significant hydrilla infestation in the northeastern portion of theLakewhich had limited infestation previously. The two most significant infestations were in areas referred to as Cagle and Stubblefield. TPWD reiterated that the inhabited, southern portion of theLakeremains its first priority, but that this newest northeastern infestation is of concern and measured 400 to 500 acres.
Given its reported hydrilla infestation of 1,942 acres, TPWD has suggested that 15,775 white amur grass carp be added toLakeConroein January, 2008 to compensate for fish mortality since the August, 2007 stocking. The calculation of white amur mortality is based on studies which report a 32% annual mortality during the first year after stocking and a 39% mortality each year thereafter. SJRA and LCA have agreed to 50/50 cost share this stocking as done throughout 2007. As a “stocking factoid”, it is calculated that 23,300 white amur have died out of the 86,200 stocked since March, 2006.
TPWD intends to perform a new survey in January, 2008 specifically in the three most infested (and populated) areas referred to as Little Lake Creek, Lewis Creek and Caney Creek. Should the infestation in these areas not decrease in the next month, TPWD stated it intends to then permit additional white amur beyond the 15,775 already permitted and discussed above.
TPWD stated that they still believe they can achieve the stated goal of “40 acres or less of hydrilla by March, 2008” even though they have reported 1,942 acres currently. TPWD emphasized that the Plan (Lake Conroe Aquatic Management Plan effective throughMarch 31, 2008) calls for a “measured approach” to the problem – meaning that the objective of hydrilla reduction cannot override the goal of maintaining the native vegetation inLakeConroe. TPWD expressed that hydrilla reduction AND maintenance of native vegetation are both priorities. In fact, TPWD intends to enhance native vegetation in 2008 by planting tape grass/water celery in the uninhabited areas of theLake.
Rather than wait for you to ask the question, I’ll pose the question “What does the LCA think about TPWD’s presentation and proposal today?” We were very disappointed to learn that the number of hydrilla infested acres increased from 1,775 to 1,942 between the July/August, 2007 survey and the November/December, 2007 survey. We are especially concerned that this increase occurred during a period where 1) we had approximately 63,000 white amur eating hydrilla (the largest quantity since the early ’80’s), 2) enormous sums of money were spent on herbicides and white amur, and 3) this growth occurred during a slower growing period based on cooler water temperatures. The LCA requested a January, 2008 stocking greater than the 15,775 permitted by TPWD to proactively deal with an infestation that continues to grow, and we do not believe that a more aggressive stocking would negatively affect native vegetation significantly. TPWD denied our request to increase this stocking and offered the January, 2008 survey as their best alternative. Since only TPWD and SJRA are “Cooperators” under the Plan, the LCA must accept this proposal and commit to actively review the infestation on a very regular basis (which we WILL do).
The LCA contributed $252,000 to SJRA during 2007 for aquatic plant management. While fund raising in the Winter months for aquatic plant management proves difficult (in part due to “out of sight, out of mind”), the LCA continues to work behind the scenes on your behalf. We recently sponsored a booth at the Conroe Chamber of Commerce annual trade show in an effort to meet with local businesses and express our genuine need for their support. Through phone calling and personal meetings, we have engaged local businesses to join the fight against invasive weeds onLakeConroeand successfully enlisted numerous businesses as LCA Business Members. To acknowledge the increasing commitment from the local business community, we have listed those businesses making contributions of $250 or more at the end of this Update. We hope you keep these business partners in mind when making purchases in their area of specialization. The LCA also maintains ongoing communication with our local representatives inAustinto reinforce our need for their support in securing funding for aquatic plant management in 2008.
The next comprehensive Residential Fund Raising Campaign will not occur until Spring, 2008 but, of course, donations are graciously accepted throughout the year. Donations to our 501 (c) 3 charitable corporation can be sent to Lake Conroe Association, PO Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378-9998. Donations should be tax deductible.
For those concerned over AVM (Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy), a disease typically carried by birds and potentially deadly to man, TPWD confirmed that it sampledLake Conroe twice in 2007 for AVM and reported no signs of this disease. Accordingly, TPWD states that for now there is no concern for Lake Conroe.
It’s time for calendar year LCA Board elections once again. The Nominating Committee has suggested that 2007 LCA Directors be re-elected for 2008 to provide continuity and allow these volunteers to see the resolution of weed infestations through to the end. The 2007 LCA Officers have accepted this nomination. Accordingly, you will shortly receive a ballot through the mail to cast your support for the recommendation of the LCA Nominating Committee or write-in your own candidate(s). If you are interested in joining the LCA Board in 2008 and desire to have your name considered by the Nominating Committee before the ballot goes to our Members, please contact me as soon as possible. Anyone interested in this position should be available to attend LCA Board Meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at10AMand intend to become involved in LCA activities/responsibilities. If the LCA Board is re-elected as is, it should be noted that the LCA Board’s intention is to re-elect the 2007 Officers for the upcoming 2008 term. The 2007 LCA Officers were Mike Bleier (President), Colin Stead (Vice President), Tom Butz (Treasurer) and Sue Wheatley (Secretary).
Thank you for your time in reviewing this information. We will continue to endeavor to provide you with timely information whenever new data becomes available. Until then, we wish you and your family a safe, happy holiday season; and please find below a listing of LCA Business Members and a brief description of their services and products.
Mike Bleier, President
****LCA BUSINESS MEMBERS****
The Board of Directors of the LCA would like to recognize the following businesses who have given a minimum of a $250 donation in 2007.
(formerly The Anchorage Marina)
P. O. Box525
(website will be activated this week)
LakeConroe’s newest luxury marina. Brand new 12×26, 12×28, 12×30, 14×40, 18×50 & 18×60 foot wet slips. Sewer pump out & 20/30/50 amp service at each of the larger slips
15225 Walden Road
Sells Cobalt runabouts and Premier pontoon boats to theLakeConroeand furroundingHoustonlakes. We promote boating as a great family activity and work hard to ensure an enjoyable experience for all our customers.
E-Z Boat Storage & Valet Launch
14811 FM 1097 W
LakeConroe’s finest valet launch facility. Located at the Southeast corner of the big bridge andLakeConroe.
Patti Shannon Sells, Inc. Real Estate
12455 Longmire Lakeview
Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors
Gary Richardson & Candace Joyner
14602 FM 1097 W
Residentail real estate firm specializing in the selling of Lake Conroe Properties.
Pro Powersports ofConroe
13895 Highway 105 W
Full service powersports retailer, offering new & pre-owned sales, finance, insurance, service, parts & accessories.
Bentwater on the Northshore
100 Bentwater Drive
Laura Baird Interiors
4605 Post Oak PlaceDrive,Suite140
Bella Vita onLakeConroe
235 I-45 North
The Baird Law Firm
4605 Post Oak PlaceDrive,Suite240
David Weekley Homes
1111 N. Post Oak Road
Express Personnel Services
Inland Discount Marine, Inc.
1 Marina Drive
P. O. Box1521
P. O. Box1124
Cobalt boat repair
P. O. “Box1154
Dry boat storage
Playa Vista onLakeConroe
5606 South Rice
Alfred “Ted” Ruemke Law Office
704 N. Thompson,Suite190
Firm handling litigation, personal injury & family law.
Good day to all. To use a common phrase, “I have good news and I have bad news. Which do you want first?”
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 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.
President, Lake Conroe Association
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.
President, Lake Conroe Association
Hoping you’ve enjoyed the Summer. Just some quick facts on Lake Conroe ’s hydrilla infestation and treatment to keep you up to date. Here’s what I know.
As of July, 2007, hydrilla infestation was surveyed to total 1,776 infested acres. Infestation by area was 564 acres in Caney Creek (northwestern arm of the Lake ), 553 acres in Little Lake Creek (primarily Bentwater, Walden, Grand Harbor and up to the bridge into Montgomery ), 295 acres in Lewis Creek (primarily Lake Conroe Hills, Pt. Aquarius and up to the small 1097 bridge at the Shell station), and 364 acres in other areas.
The September, 2007 hydrilla survey was not done by Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD). A date when a survey will be completed by TPWD has not been established.
TPWD permitted the release of 25,364 white amur grass carp after releasing its July, 2007 hydrilla survey results. To date, releases have been as follows:
· September 13….3,200 western Bentwater, 1,800 Bentwater small island and 500 Bentwater marina…..for a total of 5,500 (to cover “Little Lake Creek”)
· September 20….. 3,250 Lake Conroe Hills, 1,625 Anchorage Marina and 1,625 Pt. Aquarius…..for a total of 6,500 (to cover “ Lewis Creek ”)
· September 27…..3,200 Scott’s Ridge Nat’l Park and 3,200 northern Caney Creek….for a total of 6,400 (to cover “Caney Creek”)
· October 4…..estimated 4,000 tomorrow to Cagle Park (northeastern arm of the Lake with a significant new infestation during Summer, 2007) and possible other selected, appropriate locations
· October 11-18…..balance of 2,964…..release location not yet established
I know that the Lake still doesn’t look wonderful where infested. I know that hydrilla infestations have spread to new locations during 2007. I know that many are tired of seeing and dealing with the hydrilla…..as am I. But here is the “theoretic good news”:
· In October, 2006, we had 26,000 fish eating 1,200 acres
· In May, 2007, we had 55,000 fish eating 1,900 acres
· The July, 2007 survey reported 1,800 acres….meaning no “net growth” during the fastest growing months of hydrilla….meaning the fish were eating the hydrilla sufficiently to stop further expansion (with the help of herbicides)
· While no survey was completed, I’d “guess” that our hydrilla infestation has remained at 1,800 acres today…..again not expanding during peak growing months (with the help of herbicides)
· With the newest releases summarized above, we will have 75,000 fish eating 1,800 acres….and doing so when hydrilla is NOT in growth mode
· With hydrilla growing at a slow pace over the next 4-5 months, these 75,000 fish SHOULD reduce the number of infested acres significantly
· Should 75,000 fish reduce hydrilla to 1,400 acres (just to pick a number), then 75,000 fish will eat 1,400 acres EVEN FASTER. And should those same 75,000 fish then reduce hydrilla to 1,000 acres, then 75,000 fish will eat 1,000 acres FASTER THAN FASTER.
At least I can be optimistic that we’re headed on the right path. I doubt that the stated goal (40 acres or less of hydrilla by March, 2008) of the Lake Conroe Aquatic Management Plan co-authored by TPWD and the San Jacinto River Authority will be achieved, but hydrilla reduction WILL happen and 2008 will be a better year for all of us.
Glad to share some information and thoughts with you. Enjoy the beautiful weather ahead.
President, Lake Conroe Association
What a relief!! Our rains have filled Lake Conroe and we can again enjoy the Lake at its best. We thought you’d like an update, so here goes…
Lake Conroe was at 196.68 feet (above sea level) on October 12 and rose to its highest point of 201.27 feet on November 10. The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) has since released water and we are at a level of 201.0 feet today. SJRA does not plan to allow Lake levels to exceed 201.0 feet (other than during storms) and would release water if further rains raised the level over 201.0 feet.
Factoid: The Lake rose from 196.68 feet to its highest point of 201.27 feet, or an increase of 4.59 feet. Assuming Lake Conroe to have approximately 21,000 surface acres, and assuming 0.25 inches of water over 21,000 acres equals 180 million gallons, then our 4.59 feet increase equaled over 39 billion gallons of water. That’s a lot of rain!!
Factoid: During Summer’s heat, Lake Conroe loses 180 million gallons per day to evaporation (or 0.25 inches per day over its 21,000 surface acres).
Factoid: SJRA is authorized to sell up to 90 million gallons per day. Of this, 30 million is allocated to municipal, industrial (currently to Entergy) and irrigation (various golf courses and home owners) contracts. 60 million gallons per day are set aside for the City of Houston (although they have not drawn water from Lake Conroe under this contract since 1989).
With a net increase of 4.5 feet of water in the Lake, most of the hydrilla is under the surface. Sure looks nicer!! It’s not gone….it’s just hidden. Hydrilla will not grow as rapidly in the cooler months, and we will see less of it until spring. The exact growth rate of the hydrilla and the effectiveness of our White Amur will not be known until then. We can be assured that hydrilla will be back in our Lake in the spring (including the summer’s dry lakebed now covered with water). Until then, we would not expect to see any further additions of White Amur or herbicide treatments for hydrilla.
GIANT SALVINIA AND WATER HYACINTH:
The heavy rains have “flushed out” significant quantities of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth from the northern portions of Lake Conroe. These areas have primarily low water levels and are not typically accessible by SJRA or the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) for herbicide applications. Unlike hydrilla which anchors itself to the lakebed through roots (tubers), Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth typically float. In a heavy rain, they just “float” South towards the dam. The current infestation of Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth across our Lake is serious, and serious action is being taken by both SJRA and TPWD. Both have committed financial and personnel resources to actively spray herbicides on these plants (to date in 2006, no money has been contributed by the LCA for herbicide applications). The most effective herbicide for Water Hyacinth is “Diquot”, but it does not work well on Giant Salvinia. Since “Glycophosphate” (with an “AquaKing” surfactant) works on both Water Hyacinth and Giant Salvinia, it is the herbicide of choice currently. SJRA and TPWD provide notices with recommended precautions in your area if they are spraying herbicides.
“Weevils” have been used on Lake Conroe as a biological supplement (to herbicides) to reduce Giant Salvinia. Due to quantity of Giant Salvinia “flushed out” into our Lake currently, herbicides are being applied to Giant Salvinia (which will also kill the “weevils”). Going forward, SJRA intends to only utilize “weevils” for Giant Salvinia infestations west of Little Lake Creek Bridge (going into Montgomery on FM 1097) and in the northern National Forest (both of which areas are uninhabited). “Weevils” are utilized to determine their effectiveness compared to herbicides (both to reduce our use of herbicides in our Lake and to reduce the high cost of herbicide applications).
With November 13th’s White Amur release, we should now have an estimated 27,048 White Amur in Lake Conroe (after factoring in mortality of fish during 2006). The maximum number of fish allowable under the 2006 Lake Conroe Hydrilla Management Plan was 30,000. Approximate White Amur release locations and quantities are summarized as follows: 10,000 in Little Lake Creek (Walden boat ramp), 8,000 in Lewis Creek (FM 830 boat ramp), 5,000 in Caney Creek (Scott’s Ridge boat ramp), 2,000 in Atkins Creek (Del Lago boat ramp), 1,500 from Cape Conroe and 500 near the 1097 bridge. The “LakeConroeAssociation.com” website has a more detailed map for your review.
The cost of our 27,048 White Amur was approximately $216,000. Approximate funding was provided as follows: $110,000 LCA, $81,000 SJRA and $25,000 Montgomery County Precinct 1.
TPWD WAIVES $2 FEE:
TPWD charges a $2 per White Amur processing fee throughout Texas. While final authorization has not been signed in Austin yet, TPWD acknowledges that the TPWD Commissioners have approved waiving this $2 fee beginning around January 1, 2007. At $2 per fish, over $54,000 was paid to TPWD in 2006 for Lake Conroe’s introduction of White Amur.
2007 AQUATIC MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR LAKE CONROE:
The current 2006 Hydrilla Management Plan for Lake Conroe is soon to expire and will be replaced by the 2007 Aquatic Management Plan for Lake Conroe. The 2007 Plan will extend beyond Hydrilla and address the control or eradication of Hydrilla, Giant Salvinia and Water Hyacinth on our Lake. The first draft of the 2007 Plan has been completed by TPWD and submitted to SJRA for review. With SJRA’s comments to be submitted shortly, a second draft will be produced and reviewed by the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee is encouraged to make comments and recommendations, but the final decision of the contents of the 2007 Plan will fall upon TPWD and SJRA as “Cooperators” of the Plan.
Members of the Advisory Committee (other than TPWD and SJRA) are referred to as “Stakeholders”. The proposed “Stakeholders” will be a diverse group approximating representatives of four (4) resident/POA/HOA’s, four (4) local businesses, four (4) angler associations, one (1) independent consultant, and four (4) local individuals currently active in addressing Lake Conroe’s weed infestation. The LCA will hold one (1) of the “resident/POA/HOA” designations.
Through your generous contributions, the LCA has raised in excess of $200,000 during 2006 (out of its $250,000 goal). These contributions have allowed the LCA to act as the primary funding source for White Amur in 2006 and established sufficient reserves to help fund the LCA’s portion of anticipated White Amur purchases in 2007. Of course, the LCA’s Fund Raising efforts cannot stop here. The LCA is already thinking towards anticipated 2008 White Amur purchases, ongoing White Amur introductions for maintenance levels, reserves for herbicide applications should Giant Salvinia, Water Hyacinth or some new invasive weed get out of control, reserves for surveying and testing, and reserves for the unforeseen incidents that occur on a Lake and always need money to remedy.
If you have not yet contributed to the LCA’s Fund Raising efforts, we would greatly appreciate your donation as each dollar gets us closer to our $250,000 goal. Donations can be mailed to Lake Conroe Association, P.O. Box 376, Willis, Texas 77378-9998. The LCA is a 501 ( c ) (3) non-profit corporation, and your donation should be deductible for income tax purposes. Approximately ninety-six percent (96%) of all monies donated to the LCA since 2000 have been utilized to purchase White Amur or herbicides (and all related fund raising costs such as printing and postage). The LCA is staffed by volunteers and pays no compensation.
Support from local businesses in the LCA’s Fund Raising Campaign has been disappointing. To better communicate our need to the many local businesses who may consider financially assisting the LCA and our community, the LCA is currently working more closely with the Lake Conroe Chamber of Commerce and its members through participation at Chamber meetings, public speaking, trade show booths and whatever other source that allows us to make a “connection” between the LCA and local businesses.
TPWD will be waiving its $2 per White Amur fee. SJRA has agreed to split the cost of White Amur with the LCA, and has significantly increased its Aquatic Plant Management budget. Having met numerous times with Montgomery County Commissioners Court, the LCA is drafting its request for additional 2007 funding from Montgomery County. The LCA’s Fund Raising Committee is utilizing volunteers to search for State and Federal Grants which may be available to assist with Lake Conroe’s 2007 Aquatic Plant Management Program. Efforts across the State are being made to restore a Federal “CORE $” program discontinued in 2004 which, if funded, would again make monies available to TPWD and/or SJRA for our Aquatic Plant Management needs. Texas Black Bass Association is investigating funding sources to deal with the eradication or control of Giant Salvinia on Lake Conroe. The Seven Coves Bass Club (Lake Conroe) has applied for a State Grant to secure funds for lake health and maintenance. It’s beginning to feel like we’re all working together in Lake Conroe to solve this serious problem, and we sincerely thank everyone for their efforts.
LCA ANNUAL MEETING:
The LCA will hold its Annual Meeting for its Members and Board on Friday, January 19, 2007 at 10AM at the SJRA offices on Highway 105. The agenda will include updates on all Aquatic Plant Management issues, voting on proposed LCA By-Law revisions and electing the LCA Board of Directors for 2007. All LCA Members will be receiving in the mail a written invitation as well as a proxy ballot for the 2007 LCA Board of Directors should the Member be unable to attend the Meeting. The current LCA Board has thirteen (13) Directors. YOUR RETURN OF THE ANNUAL MEETING PROXY IS CRITICAL TO OBTAIN A QUORUM. Without a quorum, elections cannot be held and the meeting will have to be rescheduled followed by another mailing. Please return your Proxy today.
NEVER SHORT !!
These LCA Updates are never short due to the quantity of information and infrequency of distribution. We will endeavor to provide more timely communication to you via our website (“LakeConroeAssociation.com”). We thank you for reading to the end and supporting our collective cause to preserve our wonderful Lake Conroe.
President, Lake Conroe Association
By KIMBERLY STAUFFER and BETH KUHLES
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
The San Jacinto River Authority and Texas Parks and Wildlife officials decided to dump 13,800 grass carp into congested Lake Conroe to combat spreading hydrilla after a September survey showed rapid growth.
The fish are expected to be introduced into the lake sometime in the next month.
In July, hydrilla infested 739 acres of Lake Conroe. By September, the foreign plant had spread to 1,167 acres. Earl Chilton, aquatic habitat coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife, said the stocking rate is now 23.1 fish per acre, a marked increase from earlier this year when officials began treating the lake with five fish per acre. Officials began a conservative assault on hydrilla in March with 4,300 fish and now, factoring in a 30 percent annual mortality rate, Lake Conroe will have about 27,000 grass carp.
Montgomery County commissioners have joined the battle over hydrilla on Lake Conroe, urging officials to use whatever means necessary, including the maximum number of plant-eating fish — 30,000 — to preserve the lake.
Commissioners passed a resolution allowing the maximum number of fish allowable under the Hydrilla Management Plan previously approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife to be deposited in Lake Conroe.
Mike Bleier, president of the Lake Conroe Resident Association, said the organization is “extremely happy with the (lake officials’) decision.”
“With the announcement of 13,800 fish to be released, it doubles the amount of fish in the lake eating hydrilla, and that can only be a good thing,” he said.
Bleier said the lake weed has experienced 58 percent growth since July, which severely hinders lake usage and recreation.
“The lake appearance in certain places is not what it could be,” he said. “The use of motor craft in the lake is more difficult … because of increased number of acres (of hydrilla). It was a bit discouraging to see this growth. It’s encouraging that (Texas Parks and Wildlife) is at least acknowledging it.”
While not poisonous, the plant grows from buried bulbs in the lake bottom to the surface, developing into dense mats that prevent homeowners and tourists from swimming and using boats and jet skis.
Plant growth rate
The high growth rate is attributable to the lower water levels in the 21,000-acre man-made lake, with the combination of clear, shallow water and penetrating sunlight and runoff from local golf courses, residences and businesses contributing abundant nutrients.
Chilton said Texas Parks and Wildlife officials will conduct three surveys each year to measure hydrilla growth to determine if any fish need to be added to the lake. Surveys are planned for May, July and September.
“We’ll wait until the survey next spring to determine whether we need more fish and determine how well the natives (plants) are growing. If the hydrilla is growing at a significant rate earlier in the year, we may go ahead and do a March or April survey. It just depends on how the lake is doing.”
Like Lake Austin, which has endured similar hydrilla infestations, Chilton said battling the weed could take up to two years using a conservative approach to avoid overstocking the lake, a mistake officials made in the early 1980s that ultimately destroyed Lake Conroe’s native vegetation.
In the late 1970s, Lake Conroe became infested with the Southeast Asian plant, which eventually covered 45 percent of the water. Officials treated the outbreak with herbicides until the plant consumed about 7,500 acres just three years after the initial expansion.
In reaction, lake officials dumped almost 300,000 grass carp in Lake Conroe. The fish, also known as white amur, eliminated the foreign plant, but the severe overstocking decimated the native vegetation when the hydrilla, the grass carp’s favored food, disappeared.
Bleier said he believes officials have had to change their moderate stance on fighting hydrilla because of unexpectedly fast growth.
“I think the hydrilla unfortunately is growing faster than they had hoped for,” he said. “Once they measured that growth, they responded accordingly with an adequate number of fish. There were signs of hydrilla growth and expansion (two months ago), so I think their conservative approach couldn’t be maintained any longer because of rapid growth being seen out our windows every day.”
Chilton said the warm weather months of July, August and September contributed to the fast hydrilla growth, but the onset of cooling winter temperatures should slow the weed.
“We believe it’s probably slowed down its growth rate,” he said. “You should expect some kind of dieback in winter depending on the weather. It’s still increasing, but at a significantly slower rate than before we put the grass carp in.”
Maintaining lake’s health
Lake officials will continue to administer herbicides in conjunction with the plant-eating fish, Kellum said.
“It’s an ongoing maintenance situation,” he said. “We’re using herbicides to maintain the health of the lake.”
Chilton said he hopes the recent measures to impede hydrilla expansion quells Lake Conroe residents’ concerns with officials’ reactionary tactics.
“It’s hard to tell. I imagine some of the residents may be pleased and willing to wait until next summer to see how this number of fish is doing,” he said. “Other ones may be some who are still upset and want more fish. It’s difficult.”
Lake Conroe Association members campaigned for 30,000 fish while lake officials continued a conservative program to treat the lake. The association held a fundraiser to raise money for grass carp and hydrilla control. Residents and businesses contributed $191,000 to the campaign, and the San Jacinto River Authority agreed to pay half the cost for purchasing the fish.
“Getting 90 percent of our goal in the first year is a proactive approach and we’re pleased (Texas Parks and Wildlife) made that decision,” he said. “The winter is going to bring cooler temperatures, which will slow hydrilla growth, and we’ll have 27,000 fish in the lake to start eating away.”
By: Howard Roden, Conroe Courier staff
LAKE CONROE – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will deposit another 13,800 hydrilla-eating fish into Lake Conroe, but the agency denied it was pressured by lakefront property owners to meet their demands.
That amount of white Amur – scheduled to be released over the next month – will more than double the current grass carp population of 13,248. It also satisfied an earlier demand by the Lake Conroe Association that the TPWD stock a total of at least 27,000 fish this year.
The LCA, a nonprofit group comprised primarily of lakefront property owners and businesses, had informed parks and wildlife officials it would abandon a cooperative relationship with the TPWD if the organization’s arbitrary number wasn’t attained.
Meanwhile, representatives from bass fishing groups had previously voiced their support for controlling hydrilla in Lake Conroe – as long as the number of fish required was validated by scientific calculations.
As it turned out Monday during a meeting at the San Jacinto River Authority headquarters, both sides got what they wanted.
In announcing that hydrilla now infested a total of 1,167 surfaces acres of Lake Conroe, TPWD Program Specialist Earl Chilton said the latest, and largest, white Amur release was based on attaining a “stocking rate” of 23.1 fish per acre. That rate represented the mean average of the six stocking rates at Lake Austin, where the TPWD used the fish to successfully combat hydrilla, he said.
“We could have used a higher or lower stocking rate, but this (23.1 fish per acre) was what worked over a period of a year-and-a-half,” Chilton said.
Contacted in Chicago, LCA President Mike Bleier said the organization had requested the release of the 30,000 white Amur that was part of the TPWD’s 2006 aquatic plant management plan for Lake Conroe.
“The (Montgomery) county commissioners and (state Senator-elect) Robert Nichols had been pushing for the 30,000 as well,” Bleier said. “We (the LCA) didn’t think 27,000 fish were going to denude the lake. That’s an adequate number of fish to work with during the winter without endangering the lake.”
Bleier also denied the parks and wildlife department “yielded” to any pressure.
“They did their math to a significant problem,” he said. “The LCA is okay with their calculations.”
Chilton said the TPWD would have been “just as happy” to go wherever the data of its September hydrilla survey would have suggested.
“There’s always a little bit of a leeway in calculations, but if the amount (of fish) would have been significantly below (27,000) we would have stayed with that data, regardless of the reaction,” he said.
Texas Black Bass Unlimited President Ed Parten did not voice direct opposition to the increase of fish into Lake Conroe.
“We want to control the hydrilla,” he said following the meeting. “Our only concern is that the parks and wildlife gets too far ahead of the curve and that 27,000 of the grass carp will still be in the lake next spring. If that happens, consumption will increase and we’ll see eradication in lieu of control. Then the native vegetation in the lake will be next.”
Results of the hydrilla survey conducted on eight days from Sept. 9-21 showed a 57 percent increase – 428 acres – in surface coverage. The majority of the fast-growing water weed was found in Little Lake Creek (526 acres). Other areas of significant infestation included Caney Creek (290 acres), Lewis Creek (178) and Del Lego (23).
Bryan District Fisheries Supervisor Mark Webb, who is in charge of the hydrilla surveys, said the parks and wildlife department is conducting “a balancing act” in order to get hydrilla under control.
“We’re hoping the carp gets ahead of the hydrilla between now and next spring,” he said. “We’re not sure exactly how the fish and vegetation is going to react (after this release).”
LCA director Ben Richardson, who attended Monday’s meeting, said he was “cautiously optimistic” over the TPWD’s latest recommendation.
“I think we got as much as we could’ve hoped for this year,” he said.
It was also revealed at the meeting that the LCA and the San Jacinto River Authority agreed to split the cost for the latest batch of white Amur. Based on $6 per fish, and a $2 per fish permitting fee paid to the TPWD, each group will spend approximately $56,000.
Richardson said the LCA has sufficient funds to cover its share, while Lake Conroe Division Manager Blake Kellum said the SJRA will use money from its aquatic plant management fund to buy fish.
Chilton said the TPWD was working on the 2007 version of its aquatic management plan for Lake Conroe. The next hydrilla survey is not to take place until May, but he said both his agency and the SJRA will monitor the lake until then.
“If anything gets out of control, we can always do another survey,” he said.
Howard Roden can be reached at email@example.com.
©Houston Community Newspapers Online 2006