Bistineau Task Force
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In 2009, Giant Salvinia covered about 8,000 acres of Lake Bistineau. The plant had been discovered in the lake three years earlier. The La. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), who has responsibilities for the management of the lake, was working hard to solve the problem. Lake users and property owners were growing hostile.
In an effort to try to improve communications, the (3) Police Juries asked Trailblazer Resource Conservation and Development to help seek solutions to the growing problem.
The groups worked together to create the Bistineau Task Force to help restore and preserve the water quality and habitats of the entire Lake Bistineau area. Accomplishments of the BTF include improved communications plus the coordination of restoration activities, education, advocacy, and citizen action.
In 2012, private funds were raised to purchase an airboat and UTV which were donated through Trailblazer to the LDWF for control of Salvinia on Lake Bistineau. The LDWF effort was tremendous; A lot of money was spent on chemicals, spraying and contractors.
In 2013, in spite of all of these efforts the growth of salvinia surprised everyone. In early summer, a new drawdown was announced. Lake users were not happy and murmuring was growing. Local leaders were asking what can we do to help. Trailblazer & others continued seeking solutions.
Drawdowns are good; Chemical spraying is helpful, but investigations into data from 40 countries around the world with this problem have identified that they are not enough to control this aggressive aquatic weed.
The “salvinia weevil” has been identified as the only effective control (anywhere) of giant salvinia. Our project team made a commitment in the summer of 2013 to get serious about weevils in Lake Bistineau. Partnerships have been developed with all stakeholders including lake users, landowners, businesses, and others. In 2013, A special committee was formed by Trailblazer RC&D to involve property owners to help plan a Salvinia Weevil Production Facility on Lake Bistineau.
Based on interviews with experts in the field, a project plan was completed in October, 2013, with budgets for construction, equipment and yearly operations. All activities were conducted in an attempt to work with and to enhance the efforts of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries who has responsibilities for the lake.
As much as possible, the needed expertise to implement the project plan has been secured and a project team has been assembled. Delays are definitely not helpful.
The control of Giant Salvinia on Lake Bistineau will require billions of weevils over the next 4-5 years.
Funding commitments are needed for a minimum of 4 years- maybe longer. The project team has pursued partnerships with the state by meeting with Legislators and other influential leaders. The project team continues to encourage the state to join with us. The Trailblazer Salvinia Weevil Production Facility Project offers a unique public– private partnership which will focus on this unique natural resource issue.
April, 2014 – the following letter was developed and sent to applicable legislators and others seeking their support: