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Natural Resources Office Fights War on Giant Salvinia

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Barksdale Air Force Base, La. - The Natural Resources Office has waged a war for over three years with an invasive aquatic species on Flag Lake known as Giant Salvinia. Recently, the Natural Resources Office received funding to start the eradication process of this aquatic plant, due to the harm it could have on the Lake’s ecosystem.

Giant Salvinia is a species native to South America but gained popularity in North America in the water gardening industry. The smallest fragment of this plant has the ability to wreak havoc on the ecosystem.

“The problem is that this vegetation grows so fast,” said Mark Gates, Barksdale’s Natural Resources “It can double in area in less than two weeks. These plants will completely shade out all sunlight underneath the water by creating dense mats. When this happens, the phytoplankton in the water column will not grow and they are essentially the start of the food chain. If there’s no phytoplankton, it could affect the entire fish population.”

The funding received will allow the Natural Resources Office to do a complete treatment of the water on Flag Lake.

“We are going to treat Flag Lake with a volumetric treatment, which means we will be able to treat the entire body of water with a small amount of chemical,” Gates says. “We have done surface sprays over the years where just the plants that are seen are sprayed, but what the volumetric treatment allows the chemical to do is to get back into the parts of the lake that can’t be reached by boats. It’s a very small amount of chemical that is put into the water, but this plant is very susceptible to it.”

Part of the treatment requires the water level on Flag Lake to be lowered to take full effect.

“When the water is lowered the chemical has a stronger concentration and works faster. Also, lowering the lake makes room for water from rains and such to come in and raise the water levels without losing the chemicals by the water running over,” said Gates.

Flag Lake is connected to other bodies of water off base, so the treatment may not completely erase all signs of Giant Salvinia, but it will help the Natural Resources Office control this plant that could devastate Barksdale lakes’ ecosystems.

Everyone who uses the lake can also do their part in preventing the spread of this invasive plant to other lakes by simply remembering to clean off boats and boat trailers before putting them into other lakes on base. This simple act could help not only keep lakes open but save the ecosystems in other lakes.