Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Congressman Gohmert and Staff Visits Weevil Rearing Facility

On Wednesday, August 15th, Congressman Louie Gohmert from Texas' 1st Congressional District visited the Center for Invasive Species Eradication's Giant Salvinia Weevil Rearing Facility as a part of his visit to the district during Congress' summer recess. The Congressman has been actively engaged and supports efforts to quell the giant salvinia infestation at Caddo and other lakes throughout his district. As a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Congressman Gohmert routinely deals with issues that impact our nation's natural resources.

While the Congressman has been on Caddo Lake many times and seen the perils of giant salvinia first hand, many of his Staff have not. This stop on the Congressman's trip gave some of his staff the opportunity to see giant salvinia up close and personal while also getting out on Caddo Lake to enjoy its unique beauty.

The first stop on the tour was the giant salvinia weevil rearing facilities green houses. The Congressman and his staff were briefed on the operations of the green houses and weevil production by Mr. Lee Eisenberg. Also mentioned was the great collaboration that has gone into the establishment and operation of the facility. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Caddo Lake Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge staff and many local volunteers were of great assistance to Texas A&M University personnel in getting the facility constructed and underway. 

Moving indoors to the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge headquarters and the lab we have set up there, Lee continued discussions on how weevils are sampled. An adult weevil and weevil larvae were also available to view under a microscope. Adult weevils are about 2 mm in length, so getting a really good look at them requires magnification.

Following the brief stint in the lab, the visit to the weevil rearing facility wrapped up with a short presentation and video. Dr. Allen Knutson discussed work that he and Dr. Abhishek Mukherjee are conducting to evaluate the cold tolerance of the salvinia weevil. Initial findings indicate that weevils from different geographic locations are adapted to their specific climates making some more cold tolerant than others. The video shown (same video as the previous post) highlighted the current giant salvinia situation on Caddo Lake.

Before the Congressman and his staff departed, we took a short boat tour of Caddo Lake. Joining in on the tour was newly elected Texas House of Representatives Member Elect Chris Paddie. He will be representing House District 9 in the coming session. Given the time available, we weren't able to get the group out to the areas of the lake where giant salvinia is really bad. Regardless, everyone was able to truly enjoy Caddo Lake.

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