Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sen. Hutchison Praises Caddo Lake Giant Salvinia Work

Last week we had the privilege of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison visiting Caddo Lake and touring the Center for Invasive Species Eradication’s salvinia weevil-rearing facility located at the wildlife refuge.

Following the tour, Hutchison spoke to a group gathered at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge about the threat that invasive species such as the giant salvinia pose to the refuge and to Texas lakes.

“While Caddo Lake is home to hundreds of animal, fish and plant species, invasive species threaten this magnificent resource,” said Hutchison. “We are proud to work with the Caddo Lake Institute and Texas A&M University on creating a center of excellence focused on eradicating invasive species.”

You can read the full AgriLife TODAY story for more information. Visit our Facebook page for more photos of the day's events.

Sen. Hutchison also applauded the Caddo Lake Giant Salvinia Eradication Project in her weekly column in the Mineola Monitor, noting that "this promising research will help restore Caddo's habitats and protect this unique natural treasure." Read the full Mineola Monitor article for more information.

Recap of Congressional Hearing on Giant Salvinia

Back in June, we attended a Congressional hearing in Shreveport on giant salvinia.

Experts at the hearing testified that there is no silver bullet for giant salvinia. They also stressed that research collaboration in combination with various management methods and education is essential to fighting the plant.

Testimony by federal agencies, Texas and Louisiana state agencies, universities and non-governmental organizations on efforts to control and eradicate giant salvinia were heard during the field hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs on June 27 at Louisiana State University–Shreveport.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Fleming from Louisiana and Rep. Louie Gohmert from Texas attended the hearing. Staff from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) attended the hearing.

“We are losing ground on something we don’t have an answer for,” said Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Louisiana has seen its state-wide infestation of giant salvinia grow from approximately 13,000 acres to more than 25,000 acres in two years.

Richard Lowerre, Caddo Lake Institute president, highlighted our work on rearing the salvinia weevils for release into the lake and educating the public, with collaborators Texas AgriLife Research, Texas AgriLife Extension, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Dr. Michael J. Grodowitz, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers research entomologist, said the biological control of giant salvinia with salvinia weevils is “highly promising” but said managing the plant through biological control is a long-term process. Grodowitz said besides looking at ways to control the plant, research needs to be done on what underlying factors in a particular waterbody allow the plants to grow and out-compete native plant species.

Other witnesses were Louisiana State Rep. Henry Burns; Ross Melinchuck, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department deputy director; Michael Massimi, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program invasive species coordinator; Ken Ward, Caddo Parish Department of Public Works project manager; Dr. Randy Westbrooks, U.S. Geological Survey National Wetlands Research Center invasive species prevention specialist; Dr. Dearl Sanders, Louisiana State University Idlewild Research Station resident coordinator; Jeffrey Trandahl, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation executive director; and Dr. Damon Waitt, University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center senior director.

Read the Natural Resources Committee news release. Listen to the hearing.