Views Differ On Vegetation At Lake Tyler
By STEVE KNIGHT
The annual tug of war between Lake Tyler property owners and recreational boaters vs. fishermen doesn't look like it is going the fishermen's way.
Don't blame anyone but Mother Nature.
Off and on since 1993 the two sides have battled over how much hydrilla should be left primarily in Lake Tyler East. This year there is little to argue over since last summer's drought appears to have made it a moot point.
Chances are, however, this isn't the last round.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has conducted its annual vegetation study on both lakes for the city. It is what they didn't find that is in stark contrast to the last few years. The report kind of fibbed to show an acre of hydrilla on the East lake. Growing instead are emergent species such as maiden cane and shoreline rushes that were flooded when the lake level came up this spring.
The report wasn't much different on the West lake. About four acres of hydrilla was found in front of the water intake, but well offshore. Another small amount was noted around the gas pumps and boat stalls at Lake Tyler Marina that may need treated before impacting access.
Hydrilla, a fisherman's favorite and a recreational boater's nightmare, was first discovered on Lake Tyler in 1983. Primarily found on Lake Tyler East, it has been there every year and the amount varies. During the drought of 2005-06 hydrilla covered about 1,200 acres of the 2,500-acre East lake.
At times Tyler has used chemicals to control the vegetation, a native to Africa, Australia and parts of Asia. When it does, the city attempts to keep the interests of multiple user groups in mind. It doesn't always work to everyone's satisfaction. Last year the city spread about 200 acres of the 400 acres of hydrilla on the East lake. Nothing was spread on the West.
This year, however, the lack of hydrilla isn't completely a manmade event.
"Certainly the area where the substrate was exposed over the winter subjected the hydrilla and other submersed species to desiccation," said Richard Ott, TPWD fisheries biologist.
That, Ott said, doesn't explain all of the loss.
"However, even some deeper stands of hydrilla that would have remained submerged have also disappeared. Much of the area on the east lake that the city had sprayed last June was exposed later in the year so they got early control by herbicide, but with desiccation later," he explained.
The biologist said it is unlikely the hydrilla is gone for good, or even for the summer.
"It is likely that additional hydrilla will re-sprout from tubers in the substrate later in the year. The bigger question is how much, where, and when this will occur. In areas currently occupied by coontail or chara, hydrilla recovery will be delayed because the tubers are shaded from the sun," Ott said.
Because of declining water levels last year, by August there was only about 20 acres of hydrilla remaining. In its place was about 500 acres of coontail and chara that continues to provide the vegetation fishermen want. That, along with the emerging vegetation that popped up when the water receded provided ample spawning habitat this spring and protection for the 120,000 Florida bass fingerlings stocked in the East lake this month.
"The newly inundated emergent vegetation provides very good habitat for small fish and this is where we released the Florida bass last week. The coontail and chara will also provide excellent habitat," said Ott, adding an equal number of fingerlings will be stocked in the West lake at a later date.