By Daren Horton
If you read the paper, listen to the radio, watch television, look at Facebook or have conversations with your neighbors, you have most likely heard about the invasive plant, Giant Salvinia that is attacking Caddo Lake. I am proud to say that my neighbors have done a fantastic job of bringing the situation to the attention of anyone that loves the lake, has visited the lake or has a free minute to listen.
The Greater Caddo Lake Association is leading an effort to form a coalition to address the problem. We recently held our annual “Labor Day Barbecue” and had a record turn-out to raise funds for the launch of a Weevil Hatchery that we have come to learn is the only solution for the problem.
Because of the efforts of local grass root groups to educate the public, and because of the rapid spread of the plant on the lake, we have seen a groundswell of attention and a growing effort to protect our beloved Caddo Lake. Anytime this many people are Face-booking, tweeting and just talking about a topic of this magnitude, the media is not far behind. Indeed the great turn-out at Crips Camp for the barbecue, and much of the attention, is due to the expanded coverage of our fight.
However, in recent days it has been brought to my attention that in sounding the alerts and gathering public support, we have not painted an entirely accurate picture of the overall condition of the lake. While the Giant Salvinia has spread to a large percentage of the lake and has covered some sections completely, there is still so much that can be visited and enjoyed. I was both surprised and concerned when I was informed at this evening’s Greater Caddo Lake Association meeting that some of our Bed and Breakfast owners were receiving cancelations from potential guests because local media coverage said the lake is inaccessible. Sara Smith with Shady Glade Resort said, “She received a cancellation from a Houston party because the local television station played a spot reporting on what bad shape the lake is in.”
Make no mistake; Giant Salvinia is in the process of taking over the lake. Please understand at the same time, however, that an outstanding vacation or weekend can still be had at the lake while enjoying everything she has to offer. Many guides and cabin owners have the entrepreneurial wherewithal to install booms to keep their boat houses free of the Giant Salvinia. Plenty of local business owners work to physically remove the plant on a regular basis and many more simply have not had a problem because they are fortunate to be in an area not yet affected. My wife and I live on the big river (Big Cypress Bayou) and talk regularly of how fortunate we are to be on the river where the weed is seldom seen.
Those of us who have made a commitment to solving the problem and spreading the word about the fight know that acting now is imperative. We can’t wait till the lake is inaccessible. We will continue to share our belief that acting now is our only chance at controlling the Salvinia. The sole purpose of the Weevil Hatchery will be to produce as many weevils as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible, and to disperse them expertly. Herbicide applications, physical removal and other tactics have been proven ineffective over time. The only way Giant Salvinia has been controlled anywhere in the world is through biological control, through introduction of the Giant Salvinia Weevil. Recent success on other lakes in Texas and Louisiana has strengthened our resolve. The research facility at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge has shown us first-hand that weevils control the Salvinia. We are ready now to move from research to production.
The reason for my letter today is to make a commitment that from today forward, anytime we share information about our commitment to protect Caddo Lake, we must also remind everyone that access is abundant. If you have never visited Caddo Lake, you are missing out on one of the most beautiful spots in the country. My wife and I visited for the first time from Dallas a little over twenty years ago. We loved it so much we ended up selling everything we owned to build a life on the waterfront.
If you already have plans to visit, rest assured, the folks you are staying with can make sure your visit is everything you expect and more. If you want to support Caddo Lake, one of the best ways to do so is to visit and support the local business owners, restaurants and grocery stores. These are the people who are putting everything they have into protecting her.