Texas Parks & Wildlife:
ATHENS (KYTX) — Giant salvinia, a non-native invasive aquatic plant, has been found at several lakes around East Texas over the past few months, leading to concerns over how quickly the destructive plant is spreading.
Since October 2012, giant salvinia has been found at boat ramps on Lake O' the Pines, Lake Wright Patman, Lake Gilmer, and Lake Murval. This has led to increased efforts by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Inland Fisheries District 3A staff to inspect boat ramps for invasive plants and remove them before they can become established.
Giant salvinia is usually spread unknowingly by boaters when the plants cling to their boats and trailers. A probable source of giant salvinia in East Texas is Caddo Lake, where the giant salvinia coverage is particularly high this winter. Most ramps on Caddo are currently covered in giant salvinia, and it is almost impossible to launch a boat without covering the trailer with the invasive plant. A single plant transported on a boat trailer from one lake to another can lead to a new infestation.
Giant salvinia can severely limit fishing and boating access as well as displace native beneficial plants that are used as habitat by fish. Once it becomes established in a lake, it is nearly impossible to completely remove. TPWD crews have been successful in eradicating giant salvinia in some lakes when it was spotted early and confined to the area immediately around a boat ramp, but the best way to prevent it from infesting a lake is not to introduce it at all.
All boaters should learn to identify giant salvinia as well as other invasive species that occurs in Texas waters. Most importantly, boaters should remember to clean their boats and trailers before leaving the boat ramp. Transporting giant salvinia, along with other invasive species, is prohibited by law and punishable by a fine of up to $500 per violation.