Authority Contacts

WHO SHOULD I CONTACT TO VOICE MY CONCERN?…

Write/call one or more of the officials below. Tell them we can’t wait for problems to overwhelm us. We must act before things get out of hand.

SAN JACINTO RIVER AUTHORITY

Mr. Blake Kellum (936-588-1111)
P. O. Box 329
Conroe, Texas 77305
FAX 936-588-1114
Email: bkellum@sjra.net

SJRA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Lloyd B. Tisdale, President
R. Gary Montgomery, Vice-President
Mary L. Rummell, Secretary
Joseph Stunja, Treasurer
David Kleimann, Member
Fred Koetting, Member
John Eckstrum, Member

You may contact any San Jacinto River Authority Board Member by addressing your comments or questions to their attention and forwarding your request to the Authority’s mailing address:
P. O. Box 329, Conroe, Texas 77305.

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE OFFICIALS

Robert Cook-Executive Director (512-389-4802)
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, Texas 78744
FAX 512-389-4814
Email: robert.cook@tpwd.state.tx.us

Phillip Durocher, (512-389-4643)
Director, Inland Fisheries
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, Texas 78744
FAX 512-389-4394
Email: phil.durocher@tpwd.state.tx.us

Dr. Earl Chilton (512-389-4652)
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, Texas 78744
FAX 512-389-4394
Email: earl.chilton@tpwd.state.tx.us

Dr. Mark Webb (979-823-5860)
1004 East 26th Street
Bryan, Texas 77803
FAX
Email: mark.webb@tpwd.state.tx.us

COUNTY OFFICIALS

County Judge Barb Sadler (936-539-7812)
901 North Thompson, Suite 210
Conroe, Texas 77301
FAX 936-760-6919
Email: cojudge@co.montgomery.tx.us

County Commissioner Mike Meador (936-856-4851)
113 S. Trice Street
Willis, Texas 77378
FAX 936-539-7874
Email: bhouser@co.montgomery.tx.us

STATE OFFICIALS

Governor Rick Perry ((512-463-1849)
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Email Form: http://www.governor.state.tx.us/contact

PARKS & WILDLIFE COMMISSION BOARD MEMBERS

Peter M. Holt, Chairman, Chairman (210-648-8928)
3302 South W.W. White Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78222
FAX – (210) 648-0078

Joseph C. Fitzsimons (210-828-5600)
1920 Nacogdoches. Ste. 203
San Antonio, Texas 78209
FAX 210-828-5091

John D. Parker
1407 Woodland Drive
Lufkin, TX 75904
FAX – (936) 632-4503

Phillip Montgomery (972-455-4900)
P.O.Box Montgomery & Co.
5550 LBJ Freeway, Ste. 380
Dallas, TX. 75240
FAX 972-490-4905

J. Robert Brown (915-772-4246)
6949 Market Street
El Paso, Tx 79915
FAX 915-772-4246

Mark E. Bivens (806-376-7279)
414 S. Polk Street
Amarillo, Tcxas 79101
FAX 806-373-3557

Donato D. Ramos (956-722-9909)
P. O. Box 2009
Laredo, Tx. 78045-2009
FAX 956-727-5884

F. Dan Friedkin, Jr. (713-580-3220)
109 N. Post Oak Lane
Houston, Tx 77024
FAX 713-580-5220

Lee Marshall Bass (817-390-8400)
Chairman-Emeritus
201 Main
FT. Worth, TX 76102
FAX 817-390-8408

Lake Conroe Native Plant Restoration Project

Lake Conroe Native Plant Restoration Project

Conroe, TX

July 27, 2009

27 volunteers converged on Lake Conroe July 25th, 2009 for a day of transplanting native aquatic plants into the lake. Four different species of the plants were placed along the northern shores of the Sam Houston National Forest. The volunteer group was able to get 120 pots of water willow, soft-stem bulrush, spike rush, and pickerel weed into the water during the workday. The group was both dedicated and experienced, and the work was completed in a very efficient manner. All of the plants were protected with wire mesh cages after being transplanted.

The project is a coordinated effort between the Seven Coves Bass Club (with the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation), the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the San Jacinto River Authority, and the Lewisville Aquatic Ecosystem Research Facility. A major portion of the funding for the project has come via a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This group has been working to maintain a native plant base in Lake Conroe since the incorporation of white amur (also known as “grass carp”) into the lake’s hydrilla management program in 2006. Although the herbivorous fish have been able to eliminate all of the 2,000 acres of invasive hydrilla, the native base of aquatic plants in the lake has been reduced from over 1,000 acres to a sparse 150 acres to date.

The goals of the Native Plant Restoration Project is to assist in the renewal of habitat for juvenile fish, reduce excessive mineral levels that lead to invasive plant species growth, inhibit algal production, and improve the overall water quality in the lake. Although this program has placed nearly 1,500 native plants into Lake Conroe over the past two years, colonization, and expansion, has been retarded with the current numbers of grass carp that remain in the lake. It is hoped that the restocking efforts will become enhanced, with a future decline in the numbers of the amur.

Several more workdays are being scheduled for the remainder of the 2009 planting season. Anyone with questions, or a desire to assist in the restoration project, is invited to contact the project’s coordinator-Ron Gunter. Ron can be reached at 936-524-4413, or regunter@consolidated.net

LCA PRESIDENT’S UPDATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SELECTED 2007 SURVEY DATA:

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

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

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

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

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HYDRILLA HERBICIDE APPLICATIONS:

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

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

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

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GIANT SALVINIA AND WATER HYACINTH HERBICIDE APPLICATIONS:

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

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

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WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM?

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

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

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

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

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GOT ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS ?:

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

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

Mike Bleier

President, Lake Conroe Association

More Amur slated for Lake

By: Howard Roden, Conroe Courier staff

10/03/2006

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 hroden@hcnonline.com.

©Houston Community Newspapers Online 2006