Temperatures are rising and "green-up" is around the corner. Fishing activity has increased over the last few weeks as the crappie, or white perch run has noticeably commenced. With summer just a few weeks ahead, inquiries about the lake level have increased. The most commonly asked question is, "What will the lake levels be during the summer?" My response is, "We don’t know." Plans are to fluctuate the water level throughout the summer, and I believe the lake level will be anywhere from pool stage to seven feet below pool stage. Rain events and implementation of a plan to address giant salvinia will dictate water levels. Next week, Secretary Robert Barham and Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina will be briefed on the plan.
Aquatic herbicide spray treatments commenced this week. The primary purpose of these initial treatments is to break up salvinia mats in order to facilitate their movement. We need the mats to move to areas we can potentially strand during water fluctuations. A remote sensing fly-over will be conducted for Lake Bistineau on Monday, March 15.
This Thursday, we will examine the lake by boat to locate mats with GPS (coordinates will be used in the fly-over), to understand how the lowering of the lake is affecting stranded plants and to further evaluate freeze damage. Initial evaluation of the plants indicates winter freezes caused significant damage to the plants, including bud damage.
Salvinia weevils were not detected in samples taken from the lake last week. We believe at this point that very few, if any weevils, survived the winter. A video flyover will be conducted as early as next week to determine and document winter effects on the lake. This will serve as a baseline just prior to the beginning of the growing season.
The department has no involvement with the airboat traffic and markers associated with the seismic activity on the lake. Those individuals are permitted to conduct this work, and we are not involved with their daily activities.
We’ve met with officials from Webster Parish regarding preliminary plans to construct a new boating access facility with access capability at minus seven feet. Our department is interested in assisting the parish to fund this endeavor. Enhancing and promoting boating and fishing access is very important us and is therefore addressed prominently in the plan.
We want to encourage everyone interested in working with the department to rehabilitate Lake Bistineau to stay informed and engaged. We can’t do this by ourselves, and we appreciate your interest and involvement.
On a personal note, working with the folks in the region has been very helpful and something that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed as we work through this process. It helps when everyone generally wants the same thing.