.....Advertisement.....
Friday, October 08, 2010

Residents discover hydrilla in the nick of time

The Cottages at Contentment Island receive last-minute hydrilla treatment

Skip Wiegersma pumps 125 gallons of herbicide into the tank on his airboat for a run from the ramp at Crazy Horse Marina to a hydrilla infestation near The Cottages at Contentment Island.

JERRY HALE | Special to Laker Weekly

Skip Wiegersma pumps 125 gallons of herbicide into the tank on his airboat for a run from the ramp at Crazy Horse Marina to a hydrilla infestation near The Cottages at Contentment Island.

Alert residents spotted a substantial infestation of the invasive weed hydrilla in time to become part of the Tri-County Lake Administrative Commission (TLAC) 2010 aquatic vegetation treatment program.

Fall's declining water temperatures make weeds less susceptible to herbicide uptake, so treatment becomes relatively ineffective after the first week in October.

Alerted by a story in Laker Weekly noting the discovery of hydrilla in coves near Contentment Island and Silver Creek, Dale and Cathy Bleier, residents of The Cottages at Contentment Island, along with their frequent kayaking companions Laura Kaufman and Linda Higgins, began inspecting the shallows out in front of their homes as they paddled.

"It took the article to get us searching seriously," Dale Bleier said. "We were amazed at how much hydrilla we found."

Bleier said he also had taken note of a severely clogged pond while golfing at London Downs in Forest.

"That example of how severe a weed infestation can be really scared me," he said.

After spotting what they suspected was hydrilla in the shallows near Contentment Island's docks, the Bleiers hired neighbor and diver Steve Young to take a closer look. Higgins and her friend, Gail Bartok, followed Young in their kayaks and handed him bottles with brick anchors to mark suspicious weed beds.

The Smith Mountain Lake Association's Weed Hotline was called and veteran weed hunters from Silver Creek -- Wendie Dungan and Mark Anderson -- snorkeled around the area to take samples and verify the locations and depths of the weed beds.

"Bless their hearts, they scoured the shoreline and took away a bunch of samples," Higgins said.

That put the infestations on the list for TLAC's treatment program and made them a target for the final herbicide application by TLAC contractor Skip's Aquatic Solutions of Henderson, N.C., on Oct. 2.

"Believe me, we'll be watching this really closely next year," Higgins said.

To report suspicious aquatic weeds in your area, call SMLA's Weed Hotline, 719-WEED (9333).